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OF  THE 
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!;^•&4'^ 


:'"^.u'?:?.;;h.\. 


DAYiD  copperfield; 


BY 


CHAKLES   DICKENS. 


pi)ilai)£lpl)ia: 
T.  B.  PETERSON,  No.   102   CHESTNUT   STREET. 


u..^^ 


„,riVo^^^^'^^^»^ 


0 


DAYID    COPPERFIELD. 


BY 


CHARLES    DICKENS. 

("BOZ.") 


WITH    THIRTY-EIGHT    ILLUSTRATIONS, 


FROM  DESIGNS   BY    H.   K.   BROWNE. 


IN     TWO     VOLUMES. 

VOL.   I. 


pi]ilabcl|jl)ia: 
T.  B.  PETERSON,   NO.   102   CHESTNUT  STREET. 


V.J 


4lSitct{onat£l2  Sm»cr<br1i 

TO 


THE   HCN    MPt.   AND    MES.    RICHARD   WATSON, 


OF 


^ 


ROCKINGHAM    NORTHAMPTONSHIRE. 


I  0 1 773  I 


PEE  F  A  C  E. 


I  DO  not  find  it  easy  to  get  sufficiently  far  away  from 
this  Book,  in  the  first  sensations  of  having  finished  it,  to 
refer  to  it  with  the  composure  which  this  formal  heading 
would  seem  to  require.  My  interest  in  it  is  so  recent  and 
strong ;  and  my  mind  is  so  divided  between  pleasure  and 
regret — pleasure  in  the  achievement  of  a  long  design, 
regret  in  the  separation  from  many  companions — that  I 
am  in  danger  of  wearying  the  reader  whom  I  love,  with 
personal  confidences,  and  private  emotions. 

Besides  which,  all  that  I  could  say  of  the  Story,  to  any 
purpose,  I  have  endeavoured  to  say  in  it. 

It  would  concern  the  reader  little,  perhaps,  to  know,  how 
sorrowfully  the  pen  is  laid  down  at  the  end  of  a  two-years' 
imaginative  task ;  or  how  an  Author  feels  as  if  he  were 
dismissing  some  portion  of  himself  into  the  shadowy  world, 
when  a  crowd  of  the  creatures  of  his  brain  are  going  from 
him  for  ever.  Yet,  I  have  nothing  else  to  tell ;  unless, 
indeed,  I  were  to  confess  (which  might  be  of  less  moment 


Xxii  PREFACE. 

Still)  that  no  one  can  ever  believe  this  Narrative,  in  the 
reading,  more  than  I  have  believed  it  in  the  wanting. 

Instead  of  looking  back,  therefore,  I  will  look  forward. 
I  cannot  close  this  Volume  more  agreeably  to  myself,  than 
with  a  hopeful  glance  towards  the  time  when  I  shall  again 
put  forth  my  two  green  leaves  once  a  month,  and  with  a 
faithful  remembrance  of  the  genial  sun  and  showers  that 
nave  fallen  on  these  leaves  of  David  Copperfield,  and  made 
me  happy. 

London, 

October,  1850. 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTEB 


Ml«l 


I. — I  am  born 29 

IL — I  observe 33 

HE.— I  have  a  Change 60 

IV.— I  fall  into  Disgrace ^7 

V. — I  am  sent  away  from  Home 97 

VI. — I  enlarge  my  Circle  of  Acquaintaince 116 

VIL— My  "first  half  at  Salem  House 125 

VIII. — My  Holidays.    Especially  one  happy  Afternoon 144 

IX. — I  have  a  memorable  Birthday 160 

X. — I  become  neglected,  and  am  provided  for 173 

XL — I  begin  Life  on  my  own  Account,  and  don't  like  it 195 

XIL — Liking  Life  on  my  own  Account  no  better,  I  form  a  great  Reso- 
lution  • 211 

XIIL— The  Sequel  of  my  Resolution 221 

XrV. — My  Aunt  makes  up  her  Mind  about  me » 242 

XV. — I  make  another  Beginning 259 

XVI. — I  am  a  New  Boy  in  more  senses  than  one 269 

XVIL— Somebody  turns  up 291 

XVIIL— A  Retrospect 309 

XIX. — I  look  about  me,  and  make  a  Discovery 317 

XX.— Steerforth's  Home 335 

(23) 


24  CONTENTS. 

CHAPTBB  PAGB 

XXL— Little  Em'ly 344 

XXIL — Some  old  Scenes,  and  some  new  People 365 

XXIIL — I  corroborate  Mr.  Dick,  and  choose  a  Profession 388 

XXrV.— My  first  Dissipation 404 

XXV.— Good  and  bad.  Angels 413 

XXVL— I  fall  into  Captivity ^ 433 

XXVn.— Tommy  Traddles 450 

XXVnL— Mr.  Micawber's  Gauntlet 461 

XXIX. — I  visit  Steerforth  at  his  Home,  again 482 

XXX.— A  Loss 490 

XXXL — A  greater  Loss , 499 

XXXIL — The  beginning  of  a  long  Journey 610 

XXXnL— BUssful 630 

XXXIV. — My  Aunt  astonishes  me , 648 

XXXV.— Depression 658 

XXXVI. — Enthusiasm 679 

XXXVIL— A  little  Cold  Water 697 

XXXVni. — A  Dissolution  of  Partnership 606 

XXXIX.— Wickfield  and  Heep 624 

XL.— The  Wanderer , 644 

XLI. — Dora's  Aunts 654 

XLn.— Mischief. 672 

XLUL — Another  Retrospect 693 

XLIV. — Our  Housekeeping , 702 

XLV.— Mr.  Dick  fulfils  my  Aunfs  Prediction 718 

XLVL— Intelligence 735 

XLVIL— Martha 750 

XL VIIL— Domestic 762 

XLIX. — I  am  involved  in  Mystery 774 

L. — Mr.  Peggotty's  Dream  comes  true 788 

LI. — The  Beginning  of  a  longer  Journey ..„ 799 


CONTENTS.  25 

OHAPTEB  VAQ^ 

LII. — I  assist  at  an  Explosion 818 

LIU. — Another  Retrospect 839 

LIV. — Mr.  Micawber*s  Transactions 846 

LV. — Tempest 862 

LVI. — The  new  Wound,  and  the  old 875 

LVIL— The  Emigrants 882 

LVIIL— Absence 894 

LIX.— Return 901 

LX.— Agnes 918 

LXI. — I  am  shown  two  interesting  Penitents 923 

LXn. — A  Light  shines  on  my  waj 932 

LXIIL— A  Visitor 950 

XrV.— A  last  Retrospect 959 


LIST   OF    ILLUSTKATIONS. 


TO  PACE  PABB 
OUE  PEW  AT   CHURCH 45 

I  AM  HOSPITABLY  EECEIVED  BY  MR.   PEGGOTTY 64 

MY  FRIENDLY  WAITER   AND  1 101 

MY  MUSICAL  BREAKFAST.  .  . 110 

8TEERF0RTH  AND  MR.   MELL 133 

CHANGES  AT  HOME 146 

MRS.   GUMMIDGE   CASTS   A  DAMP   ON  OUR  DEPARTURE 185 

MY  MAGNIFICENT   ORDER  AT  THE  PUBLIC   HOUSE 202 

I   MAKE  MYSELF   KNOWN  TO   MY  AUNT 233 

THE   MOMENTOUS   INTERVIEW ., 251 

I   RETURN  TO  THE  DOCTOR'S  AFTER  THE  PARTY 290 

SOMEBODY  TURNS   UP 301 

MY  FIRST  FALL  IN  LIFE 329 

WE  WERE  UNEXPECTEDLY  AT  MR.   PEGGOTTY's  FIRESIDE 357 

I   MAKE   THE   ACQUAINTANCE   OF   MISS   MOWCHER 378 

MARTHA 385 

URIAH  PERSISTS  IN  HOVERINQ  NEAR   US  AT  THE  DINNER  PARTY...    425 

I   FALL   INTO    CAPTIVITY 439 

WE  ARE  DISTURBED  IN   OUR  COOKERY 466 

I   FIND   MR.    BARKIS    "GOING   OUT   WITH   THE   TIDE," 497 

MR.    PEGGOTTY   AND   MRS.    STEERFORTH 523 

MY   AUNT   ASTONISHES    ME 554 

MR.    WICKFIFLD   AND   HIS    PARTNER    WAIT    UPON   MY    AUNT 574 

(27) 


28  LIST   OP   ILLUSTRATIONS. 

10  FAOB  PAOI 
MR.   MICAWBER   DELIVERS   SOME  VALEDICTORY  REMARKS 695 

TRADDLES  MAKES  A  FIGURE  IN  PARLIAMENT,  AND   I  REPORT  HIM  .    607 

THE   WANDERER 646 

TRADDLES  AND  I,  IN  CONFERENCE  WITH  THE  MISSES   SPENLOW  .  .  ,    659 

I  AM  MARRIED 699 

OUR  HOUSEKEEPING 709 

MR.   DICK  FULFILS  MY  AUNT'S  PREDICTION 726 

THE  RIVER 752 

MR.   PEGGOTTY'S   dream  COMES  TRUE 797 

RESTORATION     OP     MUTUAL    CONFIDENCE     BETWEEN     MR.   AND    MRS. 

mcAWBER 836 

MY   child-wife's    OLD    COMPANION 845 

I   AM    THE    BEARER   OF   EVIL  TIDINGS 877 

THE   EMIGRANTS 882 

I   AM    SHOWN   TWO    INTERESTING  PENITENTS 938 

A  STRANGER   CALLS   TO   SEE   ME 950 


THE 

PERSONAL  HISTORY  AND  EXPERIENCE 

OF 

DAVID  COPPERFIELD  THE  YOUNGER. 


CHAPTER  I. 

1  AM  BORN. 

Whether  I  shall  turn  out  to  be  the  hero  of  my  own  life,  or 
whether  that  station  will  be  held  by  any  body  else,  these  pages 
must  show.  To  begin  my  life  with  the  beginning  of  my  life,  I 
record  that  I  was  born  (as  I  have  been  informed  and  believe)  on 
a  Friday,  at  twelve  o'clock  at  night.  It  was  remarked  that  the 
clock  began  to  strike,  and  I  began  to  cry,  simultaneously. 

In  consideration  of  the  day  and  hour  of  my  birth,  it  was 
declared  by  the  nurse,  and  by  some  sage  women  in  the  neigh- 
borhood, who  had  taken  a  lively  interest  in  me  several  months 
before  there  was  any  possibility  of  our  becoming  personally 
acquainted  ;  first,  that  I  was  destined  to  be  unlucky  in  life  ;  and 
secondly,  that  I  was  privileged  to  see  ghosts  and  spirits — both 
these  gifts  inevitably  attaching,  as  they  believed,  to  all  unlucky 
infants,  of  either  gender,  born  towards  the  small  hours  on  a 
Friday  night. 

I  need  say  nothing  here,  on  the  first  head,  because  nothing 
can  show  better  than  my  history  whether  that  prediction  was 
verified  or  falsified  by  the  result.  On  the  second  branch  of  the 
question,  I  will  only  remark,  that  unless  I  ran  through  that  part 
of  my  inheritance  while  I  was  still  a  baby,  I  have  not  come  into 
it  yet.  Butldonot  at  all  complain  of  having  been  kept  out  of 
this  property ;  and  if  any  body  else  should  be  in  the  present 
enjoyment  of  it,  he  is  heartily  welcome  to  keep  it. 

(29) 


80  DAVID     C  0  P  r  K  R  F  I  E  L  D , 

I  was  born  wiih  a  caul,  which  was  advertised  for  sale,  in  the 
newspapers,  at  the  low  price  of  fifteen  guineas.  Whether  sea- 
going people  were  short  of  money  about  that  time,  or  were  short 
of  faith  and  preferred  cork-jackets,  I  don't  know ;  all  I  know 
is,  that  there  was  but  one  solitary  bidding,  and  that  was  from 
an  attorney  connected  with  the  bill-broking  business,  who 
offered  two  pounds  in  cash,  and  the  balance  in  Sherry,  but  de- 
clined to  be  guaranteed  from  drowning  on  any  higher  bargain. 
Consequently  the  advertisement  was  withdrawn  at  a  dead  loss— 
for  as  to  sherry,  my  poor  dear  mother's  own  sherry  was  in  the 
market  then — and  ten  years  afterwards  the  caul  was  put  up  in 
a  raffle  down  in  our  part  of  the  country  to  fifty  members  at 
half-a-crown  a  head,  the  winner  to  spend  five  shillings.  I  was 
present  myself,  and  I  remember  to  have  felt  quite  uncomforta- 
ble and  confused,  at  a  part  of  myself  being  disposed  of  in  that 
way.  The  caul  was  won,  I  recollect,  by  an  old  lady  with  a 
hand-basket,  who,  very  reluctantly,  produced  from  it  the  stipu- 
lated five  shillings,  all  in  halfpence,  and  twopence  halfpenny 
short ;  as  it  took  an  immense  time  and  a  great  waste  of  arith- 
metic to  endeavor  without  any  effect  to  prove  to  her.  It  is  a 
fact  which  will  be  long  remembered  as  remarkable  down  there, 
that  she  was  never  drowned,  but  died  triumphantly  in  bed,  at 
ainety-two.  I  have  understood  that  it  was,  to  the  last,  her 
proudest  boast,  that  she  never  had  been  on  the  water  in  her  life, 
except  upon  a  bridge  ;  and  that  over  her  tea  (to  which  she  was 
extremely  partial)  she,  to  the  last,  expressed  her  indignation  at 
the  impiety  of  mariners  and  others  who  had  the  presumption  to 
go  "  meandering  "  about  the  world.  It  was  in  vain  to  repre- 
sent to  her  that  some  conveniences,  tea  perhaps  included,  re- 
sulted from  this  objectionable  practice.  She  always  returned 
with  greater  emphasis  and  with  an  instinctive  knowledge  of  the 
strength  of  her  objection,  "  Let  us  have  no  meandering." 

Not  to  meander,  myself,  at  present,  I  will  go  back  to  my  birth. 

I  was  born  at  Blunderstone,  in  Suffolk,  or  "thereby,"  as 
they  say  in  Scotland.  I  was  a  posthumous  child.  My  father's 
eyes  had  closed  upon  the  light  of  this  world  six  months,  when 
mine  opened  on  it.     There  is  something  strange  to  rne,  even 


DAVID     COrrER  FIELD.  81 

now,  in  the  reflection  that  he  never  saw  me,  and  something 
stranger  yet  in  the  shadowy  remembrance  that  I  have  of  my 
first  childish  associations  with  his  white  grave-stone  in  the 
churchyard,  and  of  the  indefinable  compassion  I  used  to  feel  for  it 
lying  out  alone  there  in  the  dark  night,  when  our  little  parlor 
was  warm  and  bright  with  fire  and  candle,  and  the  doors  of  our 
house  were — almost  cruelly  it  seemed  to  me  sometimes — bolted 
and  locked  against  it. 

An  aunt  of  my  father's,  and  consequently  a  great-aunt  of 
mine,  of  whom  I  shall  have  more  to  relate  by  and  by,  was 
the  principal  magnate  of  our  family.  Miss  Trotwood,  or  Miss 
Betsey,  as  my  poor  mother  always  called  her,  when  she  suffi- 
ciently overcame  her  dread  of  this  formidable  personage  to  men- 
tion her  at  all  (which  was  seldom),  had  been  married  to  a  hus- 
band younger  than  herself,  who  was  very  handsome,  except  in 
the  sense  of  the  homely  adage,  "  handsome  is,  that  handsome 
does  " — for  he  was  strongly  suspected  of  having  beaten  Miss 
Betsey,  and  even  of  having  once,  on  a  disputed  question  of  sup- 
plies, made  some  hasty  but  determined  arrangements  to  throw 
her  out  of  a  two  pair  of  stairs'  window.  These  evidences  of 
an  incompatibility  of  temper  induced  Miss  Betsey  to  pay  him  off, 
and  effect  a  separation  by  mutual  consent.  He  went  to  India 
with  his  capital,  and  there,  according  to  a  wild  legend  in  our 
family,  he  was  once  seen  riding  on  an  elephant,  in  company 
with  a  Baboon  ;  but  I  think  it  must  have  been  a  Baboo — or  a 
Begum.  Any  how,  from  India  tidings  of  his  death  reached 
liome,  within  ten  years.  How  they  affected  my  aunt,  nobody 
knew  ;  for  immediately  upon  the  separation,  she  took  her 
maiden  name  again,  bought  a  cottage  in  a  hamlet  on  the  sea- 
coast  a  long  way  off",  established  herself  there  as  a  single 
woman,  with  one  servant,  and  was  understood  to  live  secluded, 
ever  afterwards,  in  an  inflexible  retirement. 

My  father  had  once  been  a  favorite  of  hers,  I  believe,  but 
she  was  mortally  aflfronted  by  his  marriage,  on  the  ground  that 
my  mother  was  "  a  wax  doll."  She  had  never  seen  my 
mother,  but  she  knew  her  to  be  not  yet  twenty.  My  father 
and  Miss  Betsey  never  met  again.     He  was  double  my  mo- 


32  DAVID    COrrERFIELD. 

Iher's  age  when  he  married,  and  of  but  a  delicate  constitution 
He  died  a  year   afterwards,  and,  as  I  have  said,  six  months 
before  I  came  into  the  world. 

This  was  the  state  of  matters,  on  the  afternoon  of  what 
I  may  be  excused  for  calling,  tha^  eventful  and  important  Fri- 
day. I  can  make  no  claim  therefore  to  have  known,  at  that 
time,  how  matters  stood,  or  to  have  any  remembrance,  founded 
upon  the  evidence  of  my  own  senses,  of  what  follows. 

My  mother  was  sitting  by  the  fire,  but  poorly  in  health,  and 
very  low  in  spirits,  looking  at  it  through  her  tears,  and  de- 
sponding heavily  about  herself  and  the  fatherless  little  stranger 
who  was  already  welcomed  by  some  grosses  of  prophetic  pins 
in  a  drawer  up-stairs,  to  a  world  not  at  all  excited  on  the  sub- 
ject of  his  arrival  ;  my  mother,  I  say,  was  sitting  by  the  fire, 
that  bright,  windy  March  afternoon,  very  timid  and  sad,  and 
very  doubtful  of  ever  coming  alive  out  of  the  trial  that  was  be- 
fore her;  when,  lifting  her  eyes  as  she  dried  them,  to  the 
window  opposite,  she  saw  a  strange  lady  coming  up  the  garden. 

My  mother  had  a  sure  foreboding  at  the  second  glance,  that- 
it  was  Miss  Betsey.  The  setting  sun  was  glowing  on  the 
strange  lady,  over  the  garden-fence,  and  she  came  walking  up 
to  the  door  with  a  fell  rigidity  of  figure  and  composure  of  coun- 
tenance that  could  have  belonged  to  nobody  else. 

When  she  reached  the  house  she  gave  another  proof  of  her 
identity.  My  father  had  often  hinted  that  she  seldom  conduct- 
ed herself  like  any  ordinary  Christian  ;  and  now,  instead  of 
ringing  the  bell,  she  came  and  looked  in  at  that  identical  win- 
dow, pressing  the  end  of  her  nose  against  the  glass  to  that 
extent,  that  my  poor  dear  mother  used  to  say  it  became  per- 
fectly flat  and  white  in  a  moment. 

She  gave  my  mother  such  a  turn,  that  I  have  always  been 
convinced  I  am  indebted  to  Miss  Betsey  for  having  been  born 
on  a  Friday. 

My  mother  had  left  her  chair  in  her  agitation,  and  gone  be- 
hind it  in  the  corner.  Miss  Betsey,  looking  round  the  ro^m, 
slowly  and  inquiringly,  began  on  the  other  side,  and  carried 
her  eyes  on,  like  a  Saracen's  Head  in  a  Dutch  clock,  until 


DAVIT)    COPPERFIELD.  83 

they  reached  my  mother.  Then  she  made  a  frown  and  a  ges. 
ture  to  my  mother,  like  one  who  is  accustomed  to  be  obeyed,  to 
come  and  open  the  door.     My  mother  went. 

"  Mrs.  David  Copperfield,  I  thinks"  said  Miss  Betsey ;  the 
emphasis  referring,  perhaps,  to  my  mother's  mourning  weeds, 
and  her  condition. 

"  Yes,"  said  my  mother,  faintly. 

*'  Miss  Trotwood,"  said  the  visitor.  "  You  have  heard  of 
her,  I  dare  say  ?" 

My  mother  answered  she  had  had  that  pleasure.  And  she 
had  a  disagreeable  consciousness  of  not  appearing  to  imply 
that  it  had  been  an  overpowering  pleasure. 

"  Now  you  see  her,"  said  Miss  Betsey.  My  mother  bent 
her  head,  and  begged  her  to  walk  in. 

They  went  into  the  parlor  my  mother  had  come  from — the 
fire  in  the  best  room  on  the  other  side  of  the  passage  not  being 
lighted  :  not  having  been  lighted,  indeed,  since  my  father's 
funeral — and  when  they  wece  both  seated,  and  Miss  Betsey 
said  nothing,  my  mother,  after  vainly  trying  to  restrain  herself, 
began  to  cry. 

"  Oh  tut,  tut,  tut !"  said  Miss  Betsey,  in  a  hurry.  "  Don*t 
do  that !     Come,  come  !" 

My  mother  couldn't  help  it  notwithstanding,  so  she  cried 
until  she  had  had  her  cry  out. 

"  Take  off  your  cap,  child,"  said  Miss  Betsey,  "  and  let  me 
see  you." 

My  mother  was  too  much  afraid  of  her  to  refuse  compliance 
with  this  odd  request,  if  she  had  any  disposition  to  do  so. 
Therefore  she  did  as  she  was  told,  and  did  it  with  such  nervous 
hands  that  her  hair  (whch  was  luxuriant  and  beautiful)  fell  all 
about  her  face. 

"  Why,  bless  my  heart !"  exclaimed  Miss  Betsey.  "  You 
are  a  very  Baby  !" 

My  mother  was,  no  doubt,  unusually  youthful  in  appearance 
even  for  her  years ;  she  hung  her  head,  as  if  it  were  her  fault, 
poor  thing,  and  said,  sobbing,  that  indeed  she  was  afraid  she 
was  but  a  childish  widow,  and  would  be  but  a  cliiltlish  mother 


84  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

if  she  ilwvjd.  In  a  short  pause  which  ensued,  she  had  a  fancy 
that  she  telt  Miss  Betsey  touch  her  hair,  and  that  with  no  un- 
gentle hand  ;  but,  looking  at  her,  in  her  timid  hope,  she  found 
that  lady  sitting  with  the  skirt  of  her  dress  tucked  up,  her 
hands  folded  on  one  knee,  and  her  feet  upon  the  fender,  frown 
ing  at  the  fire. 

"In  the  name  of  Heaven,"  said  Miss  Betsey,  suddenly, 
«'  why  Rookery  ?" 

"  Do  you  mean  the  house,  ma'am  ?"  asked  my  mother. 

"  Why  Rookery  ?"'  said  Miss  Betsey.  "  Cookery  would 
have  been  more  to  the  purpose,  if  you  had  had  any  practical 
ideas  of  life,  either  of  you." 

"  The  name  was  Mr.  Copperfield's  choice,"  returned  my 
mother.  "  When  he  bought  the  house,  he  liked  to  think  that 
there  were  rooks  about  it." 

The  evening  wind  made  such  a  disturbance  just  now,  among 
some  tall  old  elm  trees  at  the  bottom  of  the  garden,  that  neither 
my  mother  nor  Miss  Betsey  could  forbear  glancing  that  way. 
As  the  elms  bent  to  one  another,  like  giants  who  were  whisper- 
ing secrets,  and  after  a  few  seconds  of  such  repose,  fell  into  a 
violent  flurry,  tossing  their  wild  arms  about,  as  if  their  late  con- 
fidences were  really  too  wicked  for  their  peace  of  mind,  some 
weather-beaten  ragged  old  rooks'  nests  burdening  their  higher 
branches,  swung  like  wrecks  upon  a  stormy  sea. 

*'  Where  are  the  birds  ?"  asked  Miss  Betsey. 

"  The ?"    My  mother  had  been  thinking  of  something 

else. 

"  The  rooks — what  has  become  of  them  ?"  asked  Miss  Betsey. 

"  There  have  not  been  any  since  we  have  lived  here,"  said 
my  mother.  "  We  thought — Mr.  Copperfield  thought — it  was 
quite  a  large  rookery,  but  the  nests  were  very  old  ones,  and 
the  birds  have  deserted  them  a  long  while." 

"  David  Copperfield  all  over  !"  cried  Miss  Betsey.  "  David 
Copperfield  from  head  to  foot !  Calls  a  house  a  rookery  when 
there's  not  a  rook  near  it,  and  takes  the  birds  on  trust,  because 
be  sees  the  nests  !" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  35 

"  Mr.  Copperfield,"  returned  my  mother,  "  is  dead,  and  if 
you  dare  to  speak  unkindly  of  him  to  me " 

My  poor  dear  mother,  I  suppose,  had  some  momentary  in- 
tention of  committing  an  assault  and  battery  upon  my  aunt, 
who  could  easily  have  settled  her  with  one  hand,  even  if  my 
mother  had  been  in  far  better  training  for  such  an  encounter 
than  she  was  that  evening.  But  it  passed  with  the  action  of 
rising  from  her  chair  ;  and  she  sat  down  again  very  meekly, 
and  fainted. 

When  she  came  to  hei^elf,  or  when  Miss  Betsey  had  restored 
her,  whichever  it  was,  she  found  the  latter  standing  at  the 
window.  The  twilight  was  by  this  time  shading  down  into 
darkness  ;  and  dimly  as  they  saw  each  other,  they  could  not 
have  done  that,  without  the  aid  of  the  fire. 

"  Well  ?"  said  Miss  Betsey,  coming  back  to  her  chair,  as  if 
she  had  only  been  taking  a  casual  look  at  the  prospect ;  "  and 
when  do  you  expect " 

"  I  am  all  in  a  tremble !"  faltered  my  mother.  "  I  don't 
know  what's  the  matter.     I  shall  die,  I  am  sure  !" 

"  No,  no,  no,"  said  Miss  Betsey.     "  Have  some  tea." 

"  Oh  dear  me,  dear  me,  do  you  think  it  will  do  me  any 
good  ?"  cried  my  mother  in  a  helpless  manner. 

"  Of  course  it  will,"  said  Miss  Betsey.  "It's  nothing  but 
fancy.     What  do  you  call  your  girl  ?" 

"  I  don't  know  that  it  will  be  a  girl,  yet  ma'am,"  said  my 
mother  innocently. 

"  Bless  the  Baby !"  exclaimed  Miss  Betsey,  unconsciously 
quoting  the  second  sentiment  of  the  pincushion  in  the  drawer 
up  stairs,  but  applying  it  to  my  mother  instead  of  me.  "  I 
don't  mean  that.     I  mean  your  servant-girl." 

"  Peggotty,"  said  my  mother. 

"  Peggotty,"  repeated  Miss  Betsey,  with  some  indignation. 
"  Do  you  mean  to  say,  child,  that  any  human  being  has  gone 
into  a  Christian  church,  and  got  herself  named  Peggotty  ?" 

"  It's  her  surname,"  said  my  mother,  faintly.  "  Mr.  Cop- 
perfield called  her  by  it,  because  her  Christian  name  was  the 


36  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Here !  Peggotty  !"  cried  Miss  Betsey,  opening  the  parlor 
door.    '•  Tea.    Your  mistress  is  a  little  unwell.    Don't  dawdle.'* 

Having  issued  this  mandate  with  as  much  potentiality  as  if 
she  had  been  a  recognized  authority  in  the  house  ever  since  it 
had  been  a  house,  and  having  looked  out  to  confront  the  amazed 
Peggotty  coming  along  the  passage  with  a  candle  at  the  sound 
of  a  strange  voice.  Miss  Betsey  shut  the  door  again,  and  sat 
down  as  before :  with  her  feet  on  the  fender,  the  skirt  of  her 
dress  tucked  up,  and  her  hands  folded  on  one  knee. 

"  You  were  speaking  about  its  being  a  girl,"  said  Miss  Bet- 
sey. "  I  have  no  doubt  it  will  be  a  girl.  I  have  a  presenti- 
ment that  it  must  be  a  girl.  Now  child,  from  the  moment  of 
the  birth  of  this  girl — " 

"Perhaps  boy,"  my  mother  took  the  liberty  of  putting  in. 

"  I  tell  you  I  have  a  presentiment  that  it  must  be  a  girl," 
returned  Miss  Betsey.  "  Don't  contradict.  From  the  moment 
of  this  girl's  birth,  child,  1  intend  to  be  her  friend.  I  intend  to 
be  her  godmother,  and  I  beg  you'll  call  her  Betsey  Trotwood 
Copperfield.  There  must  be  no  mistakes  in  life  with  this 
Betsey  Trotwood.  There  must  be  no  trifling  with  her  affec- 
tions, poor  dear.  She  must  be  well  brought  up,  and  well 
guarded  from  reposing  any  foolish  confidences  where  they  are 
not  deserved.     I  must  make  that  my  care." 

There  was  a  twitch  of  Miss  Betsey's  head,  after  each  of 
these  sentences,  as  if  her  own  old  wrongs  were  working  within 
her,  and  she  repressed  any  plainer  reference  to  them  by  strong 
constraint.  So  my  mother  suspected  at  least,  as  she  observed 
her  by  the  low  glimmer  of  the  fire  :  too  much  scared  by  Miss 
Betsey,  too  uneasy  in  herself,  and  too  subdued  and  bewildered 
altogether,  to  observe  any  thing  very  clearly,  or  to  know  what 
to  say. 

"And  was  David  good  to  you,  child  ?"  asked  Miss  Betsey, 
when  she  had  been  silent  for  a  little  while,  and  these  motions  ot 
her  head  had  gradually  ceased.  "  Were  you  comfortable 
together  ?" 

"  We  were  very  happy,"  said  my  mother.  "Mr.  Copper 
field  was  only  too  good  to  me." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  37 

"  What,  he  spoilt  you,  I  suppose  ?"  returned  Mi«8  Betsey. 

"  For  being  quite  alone  and  dependent  on  myself  in  this  rough 
World  again,  yes,  I  fear  he  did  indeed,"  sobbed  my  another. 

"  Well !  Don't  cry  !"  said  Miss  Betsey.  "  You  were  not 
equally  matched,  child — if  any  two  people  can  be  equally 
matched — and  so  I  asked  the  question.  You  were  an  orphan, 
weren't  you  ?" 

"Yes." 

"  And  a  governess  ?" 

"  I  was  nursery-governess  in  a  family  where  Mr.  Copper- 
field  came  to  visit.  Mr.  Copperfield  was  very  kind  to  me,  and 
took  a  great  deal  of  notice  of  me,  and  paid  me  a  good  deal  of 
attention,  and  at  last  proposed  to  me.  And  I  accepted  him. 
And  so  we  were  married,"  said  my  mother  simply. 

"  Ha  !  poor  Baby  !"  mused  Miss  Betsey,  with  her  frown  still 
bent  upon  the  fire.     "  Do  you  know  any  thing  ?" 

"  I  beg  your  pardon  ma'am,"  faltered  my  mother. 

"  About  keeping  house,  for  instance,"  said  Miss  Betsey. 

"  Not  much  I  fear,"  returned  my  mother.  "  Not  so  much 
as  I  could  wish.     But  Mr.  Copperfield  was  teaching  me — " 

(*'  Much  he  knew  about  it  himself!"  said  Miss  Betsey  in  a 
parenthesis.) 

— "  And  I  hope  I  should  have  improved,  being  very  anxious 
to  learn,  and  he  very  patient  to  teach,  if  the  great  misfortune 
of  his  death" — my  mother  broke  down  again  here,  and  could 
get  no  farther. 

"  Well,  well !"  said  Miss  Betsey. 

— "  I  kept  my  Housekeeping-Book  regularly  and  balanced 
it  with  Mr.  Copperfield  every  night,"  cried  my  mother  in  ano- 
ther burst  of  distress,  and  breaking  down  again. 

"  Well,  well  !"  said  Miss  Betsey.     "  Don't  cry  any  more." 

— "And  I  am  sure  we  never  had  a  word  of  difference  re- 
specting it,  except  when  Mr.  Copperfield  objected  to  my  threes 
and  fives  being  too  much  like  each  other,  or  to  my  putting  curly 
tails  to  my  sevens  and  nines,"  resumed  my  mother  in  anothei 
burst,  and  breaking  down  again. 

"  You'll  make  yourself  ill,"  said  Miss  Betsey,  "  and  you 


38  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

know  that  will  not  be  good  either  for  you  or  for  my  god-daugh. 
ter.     Come  !     You  mustn't  do  it !" 

This  argument  had  some  share  in  quieting  my  mother,  though 
her  increasing  indisposition  perhaps  had  a  larger  one.  There 
was  an  interval  of  silence,  only  broken  by  Miss  Betsey's  oc- 
casionally ejaculating  "  Ha  !"  as  she  sat  with  her  feet  upon  the 
fender. 

"  David  had  bought  an  annuity  for  himself  with  his  money, 
I  know,"  said  she,  by  and  by.     "  What  did  he  do  for  you  ?" 

"  Mr.  Copperfield,"  said  my  mother,  answering  with  some 
difficulty,  "  was  so  considerate  and  good  as  to  secure  the  rever- 
sion of  a  part  of  it  to  me." 

"  How  much  ?"  asked  Miss  Betsey. 

"  A  hundred  and  five  pounds  a  year,"  said  my  mother. 

"  He  might  have  done  worse,"  said  my  aunt. 

The  word  was  appropriate  to  the  moment.  My  mother  was 
so  much  worse  that  Peggotty,  coming  in  with  the  teaboard  and 
candles,  and  seeing  at  a  glance  how  ill  she  was, — as  Miss 
Betsey  might  have  done  sooner  if  there  had  been  light  enough, 
— conveyed  her  up  stairs  to  her  own  room  with  all  speed,  and 
immediately  dispatched  Ham  Peggotty,  her  nephew,  who  had 
been,  for  some  days  past,  secreted  in  the  house,  unknown  to  my 
mother,  as  a  special  messenger  in  case  of  emergency,  to  fetch 
the  nurse  and  Doctor. 

Those  allied  powers  were  considerably  astonished  when  they 
arrived  within  a  few  minutes  of  each  other,  to  find  an  unknown 
lady  of  portentous  appearance,  sitting  before  the  fire,  with  her 
bonnet  tied  over  her  left  arm.  stopping  her  ears  with  jewellers' 
cotton.  Peggotty  knowing  nothing  about  her,  and  my  mother 
saying  nothing  about  her,  she  was  quite  a  Mystery  in  the  par- 
lor ;  and  the  fact  of  her  having  a  magazine  of  jewellers'  cotton 
in  her  pocket,  and  sticking  the  article  in  her  ears  in  that  way, 
did  not  detract  from  the  solemnity  of  her  presence. 

The  Doctor  having  been  up  stairs  and  come  down  again,  and 
having  satisfied  himself,  I  suppose,  that  there  was  a  probability 
of  this  unknown  lady  and  himself  having  to  sit  there,  face  to 
face,  for  some  hours,  laid  himself  out  to  be  polite  and  social. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  39 

He  was  the  meekest  of  his  sex,  the  mildest  of  little  men.  He 
sidled  in  and  out  of  a  room,  to  take  up  the  less  space.  He  walked 
as  softly  as  the  Ghost  in  Hamlet — and  more  slowly.  He 
carried  his  head  on  one  side,  partly  in  modest  depreciation  of 
himself,  partly  in  modest  propitiation  of  every  body  else.  It  is 
nothing  to  say  that  he  hadn't  a  word  to  throw  at  a  dog.  He 
couldn't  have  thrcnvn  a  word  at  a  mad  dog.  He  might  have 
offered  him  one  gently,  or  half  a  one,  or  a  fragment  of  one  ;  for 
he  spoke  as  slowly  as  he  walked  ;  but  he  wouldn't  have  been 
rude  to  him,  and  he  couldn't  have  been  quick  with  him,  for  any 
earthly  consideration. 

Mr.  Chillip,  looking  mildly  at  my  aunt,  with  his  head  on  one 
side,  and  making  her  a  little  bow,  said,  in  allusion  to  the  jewel- 
lers' cotton,  as  he  softly  touched  his  left  ear  : 

"  Some  local  irritation,  ma'am  V 

"  What !"  replied  my  aunt,  pulling  the  cotton  out  of  one  ear 
like  a  cork. 

Mr.  Chillip  was  so  alarmed  by  her  abruptness — as  he  told 
my  mother  afterwards — that  it  was  a  mercy  he  didn't  lose  his 
presence  of  mind.     But  he  repeated,  sweetly  : 

**  Some  local  irritation,  ma'am." 

*'  Npnsense  !"  replied  my  aunt,  and  corked  herself  again,  at 
one  blow. 

Mr.  Chillip  could  do  nothing  after  this,  but  sit  and  look  at 
her  feebly,  as  she  sat  and  looked  at  the  fire,  until  he  was  called 
up  stairs  again.  After  some  quarter  of  an  hour's  absence,  he 
returned. 

"  Well  ?"  said  my  aunt,  taking  the  rotten  out  of  the  ear 
nearest  to  him. 

*'  Well  ma'am,"  returned  Mr.  Chillip,  **  we  are — we  are  pro- 
gressing slowly,  ma'am," 

"  Ba — a — ah  !"  said  my  aunt,  with  a  perfect  shake  on  the 
contemptuous  interjection.     And  corked  herself,  as  before. 

Really — really — as  Mr.  Chillip  told  my  mother,  he  was  al- 
most shocked  ;  speaking  in  a  professional  point  of  view  alone, 
he  was  almost  shocked.  But  he  sat  and  looked  at  her,  notwith- 
standing, for  nearly  two  hours,  as  she  sat  looking  at  the  lire, 


40  DAVID    COPPERFIELD, 

until  he  was  again  called  out.  After  another  absence,  he  again 
returned. 

"  Well  V  said  my  aunt,  taking  out  the  cotton  on  that  side, 
again. 

"  Well  ma'am,"  returned  Mr.  Chillip,  "  we  are — we  are  pro- 
gressing slowly,  ma'am." 

"  Ya — a — ah  !"  said  my  aunt.  With  such  a  snarl  at  him, 
that  Mr.  Chillip  absolutely  could  not  bear  it.  It  was  really 
calculated  to  break  his  spirit,  he  said  afterwards.  He  preferred 
to  go  and  sit  upon  the  stairs,  in  the  dark  and  a  strong  draught, 
until  he  was  again  sent  for. 

Ham  Peggotty,  who  went  to  the  National  school,  and  was  a 
very  dragon  at  his  catechism,  and  who  may  therefore  be  re- 
garded as  a  credible  witness,  reported  next  day,  that  happening 
to  peep  in  at  the  parlor-door  an  hour  after  this,  he  was  instantly 
descried  by  Miss  Betsey,  then  walking  to  and  fro  in  a  state  of 
agitation,  and  pounced  upon  before  he  could  make  his  escape. 
That  there  were  now  occasional  sounds  of  feet  and  voices  over- 
head which  he  inferred  the  cotton  did  not  exclude,  from  the  cir- 
cumstance of  his  evidently  being  clutched  by  the  lady  as  a 
victim  on  whom  to  expend  her  superabundant  agitation  when 
the  sounds  were  loudest.  That,  marching  him  constantly  up 
and  down  by  the  collar  (as  if  he  had  been  taking  too  much 
laudanum),  she,  at  those  times,  shook  him,  rumpled  his  hair, 
made  light  of  his  linen,  stopped  his  ears  as  if  she  confounded 
them  with  her  own,  and  otherwise  touzled  and  maltreated  him. 
This  was  in  part  confirmed  by  his  aunt,  who  saw  him  at  half- 
past  twelve  o'clock,  soon  after  his  release,  and  affirmed  that  he 
was  then  as  red  as  I  was. 

The  mild  Mr.  Chillip  could  not  possibly  bear  malice  at  such 
a  time,  if  at  any  time.  He  sidled  into  the  parlor  as  soon  as  he 
was  at  liberty,  and  said  to  my  aunt  in  his  meekest  manner : 

"  Well,  ma'am,  I  am  happy  to  congratulate  you." 

"  What  upon  ?"  said  my  aunt  sharply. 

Mr.  Chillip  was  fluttered  again,  by  the  extreme  severity  of 
my  aunt's  manner  ;  so  he  made  her  a  little  bow  and  gave  hef 
a  little  smile,  to  mollify  her. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  41 

"  Mercy  on  the  man,  what's  he  doing  !"  cried  my  aunt  im- 
patiently.    "  Can't  he  speak  ?" 

"  Be  calm  my  dear  ma'am,"  said  Mr.  Chillip,  in  his  softest 
accents.  "  There  is  no  longer  any  occasion  for  uneasiness, 
ma'am.     Be  calm." 

It  has  since  been  considered  almost  a  miracle  that  my  aunt 
didn't  shake  him,  and  shake  what  he  had  to  say,  out  of  him, 
by  main  force.  She  only  shook  her  head  at  him,  but  in  a  way 
that  made  him  quail. 

"  Well  ma'am,"  resumed  Mr.  Chillip,  as  soon  as  he  had 
courage,  "  I  am  happy  to  congratulate  you.  All  is  now  over 
ma'am,  and  well  over." 

During  the  five  minutes  or  so  that  Mr.  Chillip  devoted  to  the 
delivery  of  this  oration,  my  aunt  eyed  him  narrowly. 

"  How  is  she  ?"  said  my  aunt,  folding  her  arms  with  her 
bonnet  still  tied  on  one  of  them. 

"  Well  ma'am,  she  will  soon  be  quite  comfortable,  I  hope," 
returned  Mr.  Chillip.  "  Quite  as  comfortable  as  we  can  ex- 
pect a  young  mother  to  be,  under  these  melancholy  domestic 
circumstances.  There  cannot  be  any  objection  to  your  seeing 
hei  presently,  ma'am.     It  may  do  her  good." 

"  And  she.     How  is  she  .^"  said  my  aunt  sharply. 

Mr.  Chillip  laid  his  head  a  little  more  on  one  side,  and  looked 
at  my  aunt  like  an  amiable  bird. 

"  The  baby,"  said  my  aunt.     "  How  is  she  ?" 

"  Ma'am,"  returned  Mr.  Chillip,  "  I  apprehended  you  had 
known.     It's  a  boy." 

My  aunt  said  never  a  word,  but  took  her  bonnet  by  the 
strings,  in  the  manner  of  a  sling,  aimed  a  blow  at  Mr.  Chillip's 
head  with  it,  put  it  on  bent,  walked  out,  and  never  came  back. 
She  vanished  like  a  discontented  fairy,  or  like  one  of  those 
supernatural  beings,  whom  it  was  popularly  supposed  I  was 
entitled  to  see  ;  and  never  came  back  any  more. 

No.  I  lay  in  my  basket,  and  my  mother  lay  in  her  bed ; 
but  Betsey  Trotwood  Copperfield  was  for  ever  in  the  land  ot 
dreams  and  shadows,  the  tremendous  region  whence  1  had  so 


42  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

lately  travelled  ;  and  the  light  upon  the  window  of  our  room, 
shone  out  upon  the  earthly  bourne  of  all  such  travellers,  and 
the  mound  above  the  ashes  and  the  dust  that  once  was  he,  wiin- 
out  whom  I  had  never  been. 


CHAPTER  II. 

I   OBSERVE. 

The  Arst  <)Lj<«!rv^  .hat  assun»e  a  distinct  presence  before  me,  as 
I  look  far  bacA,  into  the  blank  of  my  infancy,  are  my  mother 
with  her  pretty  f^air  snd  youthful  shape,  and  Peggotty  with  no 
shape  at  all,  and  eyes  so  dark  that  they  seemed  to  darken  their 
whole  neighborhood  in  her  face,  and  cheeks  and  arms  so  hard 
and  red  that  I  wondered  the  birds  didn't  peck  her  in  preference 
to  apples. 

I  believe  I  can  remember  thebe  two  at  a  little  distance  apart, 
dwarfed  to  my  sight  by  stooping  down  or  kneeling  on  the  floor, 
and  I  going  unsteadily  from  the  one  to  the  other.  I  have  an 
impression  on  my  mind  which  I  cannot  distinguish  from  actual 
remembrance,  of  the  touch  of  Peggolty's  fore-finger  as  she  used 
to  hold  it  out  to  me,  and  of  its  being  roughened  by  needlework, 
like  a  pocket  nutmeg-grater. 

This  may  be  fancy,  though  I  think  the  memory  of  most  of 
us  can  go  farther  back  into  such  times  than  many  of  us  sup- 
pose. Just  as  I  believe  the  power  of  observation  in  numbers 
of  very  young  children  to  be  quite  wonderful  for  its  closeness 
and  accuracy.  Indeed,  I  think  that  most  grown  men  who  are 
remarkable  in  this  respect,  may  with  greater  propriety  be  said 
not  to  have  lost  the  faculty,  than  to  have  acquired  it ;  the 
rather,  as  I  generally  observe  such  men  to  retain  a  certain 
freshness,  and  gentleness,  and  capacity  of  being  pleased,  which 
are  also  an  inheritance  they  have  preserved  from  their  childhood. 

I  might   have    a    misgiving    that  I  am    "  meandering  "  in 

stopping  to  say  this,  but  that  it  brings  me  to  remark  that  I  build 

these  conclusions,  in  part  upon  my  own  experience  of  myself; 

and  if  it  should  appear  from  any  thing  I  may  set  down  in  this 

narrative  that  I  was  a  child  of  close  observation,  or  that  as  a 

man  1  have  a  strong  memory  of  my  childhood,  I  undoubtedly 

lay  claim  to  both  of  these  characteristics. 
4a 


44  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

Looking  back,  as  I  was  saying,  into  the  blank  of  my  infancy, 
the  first  objects  I  can  remember  as  standing  out  by  themselves 
from  a  confusion  of  things,  are  my  mother  and  Peggotty.  What 
else  do  I  remember  ?     Let  me  see. 

There  comes  out  of  the  cloud,  our  house — not  new  to  me, 
but  quite  familiar,  in  its  earliest  remembrance.  On  the  ground, 
floor  is  Peggotty's  kitchen,  opening  into  a  back  yard  ;  with  a 
pigeon-house  on  a  pole,  in  the  centre,  without  any  pigeons  in 
it ;  a  great  dog-kennel  in  a  corner,  without  any  dog  ;  and  a 
quantity  of  fowls  that  look  terribly  tall  to  me,  walking  about, 
in  a  menacing  and  ferocious  manner.  There  is  one  cock  who 
gets  upon  a  post  to  crow,  and  seems  to  take  particular  notice 
of  me  as  I  look  at  him  through  the  kitchen  window,  who  makes 
me  shiver,  he  is  so  fierce.  Of  the  geese  outside  the  side-gate 
who  come  waddlinjj  after  me  with  their  long  necks  stretched 
out  when  J  go  that  way,  I  dream  at  night  as  a  man  environed 
by  wild  beasts  might  dream  of  lions. 

Here  is  a  long  passage — what  an  enormous  perspective  I 
make  of  it ! — leading  from  Peggotty's  kitchen  to  the  front  door. 
A  dark  store-room  opens  out  of  it,  and  that  is  a  place  to  be  run 
past  at  night ;  for  I  don't  know  what  may  be  among  those  tubs 
and  jars  and  old  tea  chests,  when  there  is  nobody  in  there  with 
a  dimly  burning  light,  letting  a  mouldy  air  come  out  at  the  door, 
in  which  there  is  the  smell  of  soap,  pickles,  pepper,  candles,  and 
coffee,  all  at  one  whiff*.  Then  there  are  the  two'  parlors  ;  the 
parlor  in  which  we  sit  of  an  evening,  my  mother  and  I  and 
Peggotty — for  Peggotty  is  quite  our  companion,  when  her  work 
is  done  and  we  are  alone—  and  the  best  parlor  where  we  sit  on  a 
Sunday  :  grandly,  but  not  so  comfortably.  There  is  something  of 
a  doleful  air  about  that  room  to  me,  for  Peggotty  has  told  me — I 
don't  know  when,  but  apparently  ages  ago— about  my  father's 
funeral,  and  the  company  having  their  black  cloaks  put  on. 
One  Sunday  night  my  mother  reads  to  Peggotty  and  me  in  there, 
how  Lazarus  was  raised  up  from  the  dead.  And  I  am  so  fright- 
ened, that  they  are  afterwards  obliged  to  take  me  out  of  bed,  and 
show  me  the  quiet  churchyard  out  of  the  bedroom  window,  with 
the  dead  all  lying  in  their  graves  at  rest,  below  the  solemn  moon. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  45 

There  is  nothing  half  so  green  that  I  know  any  where,  as  the 
grass  of  that  churchyard  ;  nothing  half  so  shady  as  its  trees  ; 
nothing  half  so  quiet  as  its  tombstones.  The  sheep  are  feeding 
there,  when  I  kneel  up,  early  in  the  morning,  in  my  little  bed 
in  a  closet  within  my  mother's  room,  to  look  out  at  it ;  and  1 
see  the  red  light  shining  on  the  sun-dial,  and  think  within  my- 
self, "  Is  the  sun-dial  glad,  I  wonder,  that  it  can  tell  me  the 
time  again  ?" 

Here  is  our  pew  in  the  church.  What  a  high-backed  pew! 
With  a  window  near  it,  out  of  which  our  house  can  be  seen — 
and  is  seen  many  times  during  the  morning's  service  by  Peg- 
gotty,  who  likes  to  make  herself  as  sure  as  she  can  that  it's  not 
being  robbed,  or  is  not  in  flames.  But  though  Peggotty's  eye 
wanders,  she  is  much  offended  if  mine  does,  and  frowns  to  me, 
as  I  stand  upon  the  seat,  that  I  am  to  look  at  the  clergyman. 
But  I  can't  always  look  at  him — 1  know  him  without  that  white 
thing  on,  and  I  am  afraid  of  his  wondering  why  1  stare  so,  and 
perhaps  stopping  the  service  to  inquire — and  what  am  I  do? 
It's  a  dreadful  thing  to  gape,  but  I  must  do  something.  I  look 
at  my  mother,  but  she  pretends  not  to  see  me.  I  look  at  a  boy 
in  the  aisle,  and  he  makes  faces  at  me.  I  look  at  the  sunlight 
coming  in  at  the  open  door  through  the  porch,  and  there  I  see 
a  stray  sheep — I  don't  mean  a  sinner,  but  mutton — half  making 
up  his  mind  to  come  into  the  church.  I  feel  that  if  I  looked  at 
him  any  longer  I  might  be  tempted  to  say  something  out  loud  ; 
and  what  would  become  of  me  then  !  I  look  up  at  the  monu- 
mental tablets  on  the  wall,  and  try  ta  think  of  Mr.  Bodgers  late 
of  this  parish,  and  what  the  feelings  of  Mrs.  Bodgers  must  have 
been,  when  affliction  sore,  long  time,  Mr.  Bodgers  bore,  and 
physicians  were  in  vain.  I  wonder  whether  they  called  in  Mr. 
Chillip,  and  he  was  in  vain,  and  if  so,  how  he  likes  to  be  re- 
minded of  it  once  a  week.  I  look  from  Mr.  Chillip,  in  his 
Sunday  neckcloth,  to  the  pulpit,  and  think  what  a  good  place 
it  would  be  to  play  in,  and  what  a  castle  it  would  make,  with 
another  boy  coming  up  the  stairs  to  attack  it,  and  having  the 
velvet  cushion  with  the  tassels  thrown  down  on  his  head.  In 
time  my  eyes  gradually  shut  up,  and  from  seeming  to  hear  the 


46  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

clergyman  singing  a  drowsy  soiig  in  the  heat,  I  hear  nothing, 
until  I  fall  off  the  seat  with  a  crash,  and  am  taken  out,  more 
dead  than  alive,  by  Peggotty. 

And  now  I  see  the  outside  of  our  house,  with  the  latticed 
bedroom-windows  standing  open  to  let  in  the  sweet-smelling  air, 
and  'the  ragged  old  rooks'  nests  still  dangling  in  the  elm-trees  at 
the  bottom  of  the  front  garden.  Now  1  am  in  the  garden  at 
the  back,  beyond  the  yard  where  the  empty  pigeon-house  and 
dog-kennel  are — a  very  preserve  of  butterflies,  as  I  remember 
it,  with  a  high  fence,  and  a  gate  and  padlock  ;  where  the  fruit 
clusters  on  the  trees,  riper  and  richer  than  fruit  has  ever  been 
since,  in  any  other  garden,  and  where  my  mother  gathers  some 
in  a  basket,  while  I  stand  by,  bolting  furtive  gooseberries,  and 
trying  to  look  unmoved.  A  great  wind  rises,  and  the  summer 
is  gone  in  a  moment.  We  are  playing  in  the  winter  twilight, 
dancing  about  the  parlor.  When  my  mother  is  out  of  breath 
and  rests  herself  in  an  elbow  chair,  I  watch  her  winding  her 
bright  curls  round  her  fingers,  and  straitening  her  waist,  and 
nobody  knows  better  than  I  do  that  she  likes  to  look  so  well, 
and  is  proud  of  being  so  pretty. 

That  is  among  my  very  earliest  impressions.  That,  and  a 
sense  that  we  were  both  a  little  afraid  of  Peggotty,  and  submitted 
ourselves  in  most  things  to  her  direction,  were  among  the  first 
opinions — if  they  may  be  so  called — that  I  ever  derived  from 
what  I  saw. 

Peggotty  and  I  were  sitting  one  night  by  the  parlor  fire,  alone. 
I  had  been  reading  to  Peggotty  about  Crocodiles.  I  must  have 
read  very  perspicuously,  or  the  poor  soul  must  have  been  deeply 
interested,  for  I  remember  she  had  a  cloudy  impression  after  I  had 
done,  that  they  were  a  sort  of  vegetable.  I  was  tired  of  read- 
ing, and  dead  sleepy  ;  but  having  leave,  as  a  high  treat,  to  sit 
up  until  my  mother  came  home  from  spending  the  evening  at 
a  neighbor's,  I  would  rather  have  died  upon  my  post  (of  course) 
dhan  gone  to  bed.  I  had  reached  that  stage  of  sleepiness  when 
Peggotty  seemed  to  swell  and  grow  immensely  large.  I  prop- 
ped my  eyelids  open  with  my  two  forefingers,  and  looked  per- 
severingly  at  her  as  she  sat  at  work  ;  at  the  little  bit  of  wax 


Uur  Pew  a*^  Church. 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  47 

candle  she  had  got  for  her  thread — how  old  it  looked,  being  so 
wrinkled  in  all  directions ! — at  the  little  house  with  a  thatched 
roof,  where  the  yard-measure  lived  ;  at  her  woik-box  with  a 
sliding  lid  with  a  view  of  Saint  Paul's  Cathedral  (with  a  pink 
dome)  painted  on  the  top  ;  at  the'brass  thimble  on  her  finger  ; 
at  herself,  whom  I  thought  lovely.  I  felt  so  sleepy  that  I  knew 
if  I  lost  sight  of  any  thing,  for  a  moment,  I  was  gone. 

<«  Peggotty,"  says  I,  suddenly,  "  were  you  ever  married  ?" 

"  Lord,  Master  Davy,"  replied  Peggolty.  "  What's  put 
marriage  in  your  head  !" 

She  answered  with  such  a  start,  that  it  quite  awoke  me. 
And  then  she  stopped  in  her  work,  and  looked  at  me,  with  her 
needle  drawn  out  to  its  thread's  length. 

"  But  were  you  ever  married,  Peggotty  ?"  says  I.  '  "  You 
are  a  very  handsome  woman,  an't  you  ?" 

I  thought  her  in  a  different  style  from  my  mother,  cer- 
tainly ;  but  of  another  school  of  beauty,  I  considered  her  a 
perfect  example.  There  was  a  red  velvet  footstool  in  the  best 
parlor  on  which  my  mother  had  painted  a  nosegay.  The 
groundwork  of  that  stool,  and  Peggotty 's  complexion,  appeared 
to  me  to  be  one  and  the  same  thing.  The  stool  was  smooth, 
and  Peggotty  was  rough,  but  that  made  no  difference. 

"  Me  handsome,  Davy !"  said  Peggotty.  '•  Lawk,  no  my 
dear !     But  what  put  marriage  in  your  head  ?" 

"  I  don't  know  ! — You  mustn't  marry  more  than  one  person 
at  a  time,  may  you,  Peggotty  ?" 

"  Certainly  not,"  says  Peggotty,  with  the  promptest  decision. 

"  But  if  you  marry  a  person,  and  the  person  dies,  why  then 
you  may  marry  another  person,  mayn't  you,  Peggotty  ?" 

"You  MAY,"  says  Peggotty — "if  you  choose,  my  dear. 
That's  a  matter  of  opinion." 

"  But  what  is  your  opinion,  Peggotty  ?"  said  L 

I  asked  her,  and  looked  curiously  at  her,  because  she  looked 
80  curiously  a1  me. 

^'  My  opinion  is,"  said  Peggotty,  taking  her  eyes  from  me, 
after  a  little  indecision,  and  going  on  with  her  work,  "  that  I 


48  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

never  was  married  myself,  Master  Davy,  and  that  1  don't  expect 
to  be.     That's  all  I  know  about  the  subject." 

'*You  an't  cross,  1  suppose,  Peggotty,  are  you?"  said  I, 
after  sitting  quiet  for  a  minute. 

I  really  thought  she  was,  she  had  been  so  short  with  me : 
but  I  was  quite  mistaken ;  for  she  laid  aside  her  work  (which 
was  a  stocking  of  her  own)  and  opening  her  arms  wide,  took 
my  curly  head  within  them,  and  gave  it  a  good  squeeze.  I 
know  it  was  a  good  squeeze,  because,  being  very  plump,  when- 
ever she  made  any  little  exertion  after  she  was  dressed,  some 
of  the  buttons  on  the  back  of  her  gown,  flew  off.  And  I  recol- 
lect two  bursting  to  the  opposite  side  of  the  parlor,  while  she 
was  hugging  me. 

**  Now  let  me  hear  some  more  about  the  Crorkindills,"  said 
Peggotty,  who  was  not  quite  right  in  the  name  yet,  "  for  I  an't 
heard  half  enough." 

I  couldn't  quite  understand  why  Peggotty  looked  so  queer, 
or  why  she  was  so  ready  to  go  back  to  the  crocodiles.  How- 
ever, we  returned  to  those  monsters,  with  fresh  wakefulness  on 
my  part,  and  we  left  their  eggs  in  the  sand  for  the  sun  to  hatch ; 
and  we  ran  away  from  them  and  baffled  them  by  constantly 
turning,  which  they  were  unable  to  do  quickly,  on  account  of 
their  unwieldy  make ;  and  we  went  into  the  water  after  them, 
as  natives,  and  put  sharp  pieces  of  timber  down  their  throats ; 
and  in  short  we  ran  the  whole  crocodile  gauntlet.  /  did  at 
least ;  but  1  had  my  doubts  of  Peggotty,  who  was  thoughtfully 
sticking  her  needle  into  various  parts  of  her  face  and  arms,  all 
the  time. 

We  had  exhausted  the  crocodiles,  and  begun  with  the  alliga- 
tors when  the  garden  bell  rang.  We  went  out  to  the  door,  and 
there  was  my  mother,  looking  unusually  pretty,  I  thought,  and 
with  her  a  gentleman  with  beautiful  black  hair  and  whiskers, 
who  had  walked  home  with  us  from  church  last  Sunday. 

As  my  mother  stooped  down  on  the  threshold  to  take  me  in 
her  arms  and  kiss  me,  the  gentleman  said  I  was  a  more  highly 
privileged   little   fellow  than   a  monarch — or   something   like 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  49 

that ;  for  my  later  understanding  comes,  I  am  sensible,  to  my 
aid  here. 

"  What  does  that  mean  ?"  I  asked  him  over  her  shoulder. 

He  patted  me  on  the  head  ;  but  somehow,  I  didn't  like  him 
or  his  deep  voice,  and  I  was  jealous  that  his  hand  should  touch 
my  mother's  in  touching  me — which  it  did.  I  put  it  away,  as 
well  as  I  could. 

"  Oh  Davy  !"  remonstrated  my  mother. 

"  Dear  boy  !"  said  the  gentleman.  "  I  cannot  wonder  at  his 
devotion  !" 

I  never  saw  such  a  beautiful  color  on  my  mother's  face  be- 
fore. She  gently  chid  me  for  being  rude,  and  keeping  me 
close  to  her  shawl,  turned  to  thank  the  gentleman  for  taking  so 
much  trouble  as  to  bring  her  home.  She  put  out  her  hand  to 
him,  as  she  spoke,  and,  as  he  met  it  with  his  own  she  glanced, 
I  thought,  at  me. 

"  Let  us  say  *  good  night,'  my  fine  boy,"  said  the  gentleman, 
when  he  had  bent  his  head — I  saw  him ! — over  my  mother's 
little  glove. 

"  Good  night !"  said  I. 

"  Come  !  Let  us  be  the  best  friends  in  the  world  !'*  said  the 
gentleman,  laughing.     "Shake  hands." 

M}  right  hand  was  in  my  mother's  left,  so  I  gave  him  the 
other. 

"  Why,  that's  the  wrong  hand,  Davy !"  laughed  the  gentle- 
man. 

My  mother  drew  my  right  hand  forward,  but  I  was  resolved, 
for  my  former  reason,  not  to  give  it  him,  and  I  did  not.  I  gave 
him  the  other,  and  he  shook  it  heartily,  and  said  I  was  a  brave 
fellow,  and  went  away. 

At  this  minute  I  see  him  turn  round  in  the  garden,  and  give  us 
a  last  look  with  his  ill-omened  black  eyes,  before  the  door  was  shut. 

Peggotty,  who  had  not  said  a  word  or  moved  a  finger,  se- 
cured the  fastenings  instantly,  and  we  all  went  into  the  parlor. 
My  mother,  contrary  to  her  usual  habit,  instead  of  coming  to 
the  elbow  chair  by  the  fire,  remamoJ  at  the  other  end  of  the 
room,  and  sat  singing  to  herself. 
3 


50  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

" — Hope  you  have  had  a  pleasant  evening,  ma'am,"  said 
Peggotty,  standing  as  stiff  as  a  barrel  in  the  centre  of  the  room, 
with  a  candlestick  in  her  hand. 

*'  Much  obliged  to  you,  Peggotty,"  returned  my  mother,  in  a 
cheerful  voice,  "  I  have  had  a  very  pleasant  evening." 

"  A  stranger  or  so  makes  an  agreeable  change,"  suggested 
Peggotty. 

"A  very  agreeable  change  indeed,"  returned  my  mother. 

Peggotty  continuing  to  stand  motionless  in  the  middle  of  the 
room,  and  my  mother  resuming  her  singing,  I  fell  asleep, 
though  I  was  not  so  sound  asleep  but  that  I  could  hear  voices, 
without  hearing  what  they  said.  When  I  half  awoke  from 
this  uncomfortable  doze,  I  found  Peggotty  and  my  mother  both 
in  tears,  and  both  talking. 

"  Not  such  a  one  as  this,  Mr.  Copperfield  wouldn't  have 
liked,"  said  Peggotty.     "  That  1  say,  and  that  I  swear !" 

"  Good  Heavens  !"  cried  my  mother.  "  You'll  drive  me 
mad !  Was  ever  any  poor  girl  so  ill-used  by  her  servants  as  I 
am!  Why  do  I  do  myself  the  injustice  of  calling  myself  a 
girl  ?     Have  I  never  been  married,  Peggotty  ?" 

"  God  knows  you  have,  ma'am,"  returned  Peggotty. 

"Then  how  can  you  dare,"  said  my  mother — "you  know  I 
don't  mean  how  can  you  dare,  Peggotty,  but  how  can  you  have 
the  heart — to  make  me  so  uncomfortable,  and  say  such  bitter 
things  to  me,  when  you  are  well  aware  that  I  haven't,  out  of 
this  place,  a  single  friend  to  turn  to !" 

"  The  more's  the  reason,"  returned  Peggotty,  "  for  saying 
that  it  won't  do.  No!  That  it  won't  do.  No!  No  price 
could  make  it  do.  No  !" — I  thought  Peggotty  would  have 
thrown  the  candlestick  away,  she  was  so  emphatic  with  it. 

"  How  can  you  be  so  aggravating  !"  said  my  mother,  shedding 
more  tears  than  before,  "  as  to  talk  in  such  an  unjust  manner  ! 
How  can  you  go  on  as  if  it  was  all  settled  and  arranged,  Peg- 
gotty, when  I  tell  you  over  and  over  again,  you  cruel  thing,  that 
beyond  the  commonest  civilities  nothing  has  passed  !  You  talk 
of  admiration.  What  am  I  to  do?  If  people  are  so  silly  as  to 
indulge  the  sentiment,  is  it  my  fault  ?     What  am  I  to  do,  I  ask 


4^ 

DAVID    COrrERFIELD.  51 

you  ?  Would  you  wish  me  to  shave  my  head  and  black  my 
face,  or  disfigure  myself  with  a  burn,  or  a  scald,  or  something 
of  that  sort  ?  I  dare  say  you  would,  Peggotty.  I  dare  say 
you'd  quite  enjoy  it." 

Peggotty  seemed  to  take  this  aspersion  very  much  at  heart,  I 
thought. 

"  And  my  dear  boy,"  cried  my  mother,  coming  to  the  elbow 
chair  in  which  I  was,  and  caressing  me,  "  my  own  little  Davy ! 
Is  it  to  be  hinted  to  me  that  I  am  wanting  in  affection  for  my 
precious  treasure,  the  dearest  little  fellow  that  ever  was !" 

"  Nobody  never  went  and  hinted  no  such  thing,"  said  Peg- 
gotty. 

"  You  did,  Peggotty  !"  returned  my  mother.  "  You  know 
you  did.  What  else  was  it  possible  to  infer  from  what  you 
said,  you  unkind  creature,  when  you  know  as  well  as  I  do,  that 
on  his  account  only  last  quarter  I  wouldn't  buy  myself  a  new 
parasol,  though  that  old  green  one  is  frayed  the  whole  way  up, 
and  the  fringe  is  perfectly  mangey.  You  know  it  is,  Peggotty. 
You  can't  deny  it."  Then  turning  affectionately  to  me  with 
her  cheek  against  mine;  "Am  I  a  naughty  mamma  to  you, 
Davy  ?  Am  I  nasty,  cruel,  selfish,  bad  mamma  1  Say  I  am, 
my  child  ;  say  '  yes,'  dear  boy,  and  Peggotty  will  love  you,  and 
Peggotly's  love  is  a  great  deal  better  than  mine,  Davy.  /  dont 
love  you  at  all,  do  I  ?" 

At  this,  we  all  fell  a  crying  together.  I  think  I  was  the 
loudest  of  the  party,  but  I  am  sure  we  were  all  sincere  about 
it.  I  was  quite  heart-broken  myself,  and  am  afraid  that  in  the 
first  transports  of  wounded  tenderness  I  called  Peggotty  a 
"  beast."  That  honest  creature  was  in  deep  afHiction  I  remem- 
ber, and  must  have  become  quite  buttonless  on  the  occasion  ; 
for  a  little  volley  of  those  explosives  went  off,  when,  after  having 
made  it  up  with  my  mother,  ste  kneeled  down  by  the  elbow 
chair,  and  made  it  up  with  me. 

We  went  to  bed  greatly  dejected.  My  sobs  kept  waking  me 
for  a  long  time,  and  when  one  very  strong  sob  quite  hoisted  me 
up  in  bed,  I  found  my  motlier  sitting  on  the  coverlet,  and  leaning 
over  me.    I  fell  asleep  in  her  arms,  after  that,  and  slept  soundly. 


62  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

Wliether  it  was  the  following  Sunday  when  I  saw  the  gen- 
tleman again,  or  whether  there  was  any  greater  lapse  of  time 
before  he  reappeared,  I  cannot  recall.  I  don't  profess  to  be 
clear  about  dates.  But  there  he  was,  in  church,  and  he  walked 
home  with  us  afterwards.  He  came  in,  too,  to  look  at  a  famous 
geranium  we  had  in  the  parlor  window.  It  did  not  appear  to 
me  that  he  took  much  notice  of  it,  but  before  he  went  he  asked 
my  mother  to  give  him  a  bit  of  the  blossom.  She  begged  him 
to  choose  it  for  himself,  but  he  refused  to  do  that — I  could  not 
understand  why — so  she  plucked  it  for  him  and  gave  it  into  his 
hand.  He  said  he  should  never,  never  part  with  it  any  more, 
and  I  thought  he  must  be  quite  a  fool  not  to  know  that  it  would 
fall  to  pieces  in  a  day  or  two. 

Pcoro-otty  began  to  be  less  with  us  of  an  evening,  than  she  had 
always  been.  My  mother  deferred  to  her  very  much — more 
than  usual,  it  occurred  to  me — and  we  were  all  three  excellent 
friends,  still  we  were  different  from  what  we  used  to  be,  and 
were  not  so  comfortable  among  ourselves.  Sometimes  I  fan- 
cied that  Peggotty  perhaps  objected  to  my  mother's  wearing  all 
the  pretty  dresses  she  had  in  her  drawers,  or  to  her  going  so 
often  to  that  neighbor's  of  an  evening ;  but  I  couldn't,  to  my 
satisfaction,  make  out  how  it  was. 

Gradually  I  became  used  to  seeing  the  gentleman  with  the 
black  whiskers.  1  liked  him  no  better  than  at  first,  and  had 
the  same  uneasy  jealousy  of  him  ;  but  if  I  had  any  reason  for 
it  beyond  a  child's  instinctive  dislike,  and  a  general  idea  that 
Peggotty  and  I  could  make  much  of  my  mother  without  any 
help,  it  certainly  was  not  the  reason  that  I  might  have  found  if 
I  had  been  older.  No  such  thing  came  into  my  mind  or  near 
it.  I  could  observe,  in  little  pieces,  as  it  were  ;  but  as  to  mak- 
ing a  net  of  a  number  of  these  pieces,  and  catching  any  body  in 
it,  that  was,  as  yet,  beyond  me. 

One  autumn  morning  I  was  with  my  mother  in  the  front 
garden,  when  Mr.  Murdstone — I  knew  him  by  that  name  now 
—came  by,  on  horseback.  He  reined  up  his  horse  to  salute 
mv  mother,  and  said  he  was  sjoinsj  to  Lowestoft  to  se^?  some 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  68 

friends  who  were  there  with  a  yacht,  and  merrily  proposed  to 
take  me  on  the  saddle  before  him  if  I  would  like  the  ride. 

The  air  was  so  clear  and  pleasant,  and  the  horse  seemed  to 
like  the  idea  of  the  ride  so  much  himself,  as  he  stood  snorting 
and  pawing  at  the  garden  gate,  that  I  had  a  great  desire  to  go. 
So  I  was  sent  up  stairs  to  Peggotty  to  be  made  spruce,  and  in 
the  meantime  Mr.  Murdstone  dismounted,  and,  with  his  horse's 
bridle  drawn  over  his  arm,  walked  slowly  up  and  down  on  the 
outer  side  of  the  sweetbrier  fence,  while  my  mother  walked 
slowly  up  and  down  on  the  inner  to  keep  him  company.  I 
recollect  Peggotty  and  I  peeping  out  at  them  from  my  little 
window ;  I  recollect  how  closely  they  appeared  to  be  examin- 
ing the  sweetbrier  between  them,  as  they  strolled  along ;  and 
how,  from  being  in  a  perfectly  angelic  temper,  Peggotty  turned 
cross  in  a  moment,  and  brushed  my  hair  the  wrong  way,  ex- 
cessively hard. 

Mr.  Murdstone  and  I  were  soon  off,  and  trotting  along  on  the 
green  turf  by  the  side  of  the  road.  He  held  me  quite  easily 
with  one  arm,  and  I  don't  think  I  was  restless  usually ;  but  I 
could  not  make  up  my  mind  to  sit  in  front  of  him  without  turn- 
ing my  head  sometimes,  and  looking  up  in  his  face.  He  had 
that  kind  of  shallow  black  eye — I  want  a  better  word  to  ex- 
press an  eye  that  has  no  depth  in  it  to  be  looked  into — which, 
when  it  is  abstracted,  seems,  from  some  peculiarity  of  light,  to 
be  disfigured,  for  a  moment  at  a  time,  by  a  cast.  Several  times 
when  I  glanced  at  him,  I  observed  that  appearance  with  a  sort 
of  awe,  and  wondered  what  he  was  thinking  about  so  closely. 
His  hair  and  whiskers  were  blacker  and  thicker,  looked  at  so 
near,  than  even  I  had  given  them  credit  for  being.  A  square- 
ness about  the  lower  part  of  his  face,  and  the  dotted  indication 
of  the  strong  black  beard  he  shaved  close  every  day,  reminded 
me  of  the  Wax-work  that  had  travelled  into  our  neighborhood 
some  half  a  year  before.  This,  his  regular  eyebrows,  and  the 
rich  white,  and  black,  and  brown,  of  his  complexion — confound 
his  complexion,  and  his  memory  ! — made  me  think  him,  in 
spite  of  my  misgivings,  a  very  handsome  man.  1  have  no  doub; 
that  my  poor  dear  mother  thought  him  so  too. 


64  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

'We  went  to  a  hotel  by  the  sea,  where  two  gentlemen  were 
smoking  cigars  in  a  room  by  themselves.  Each  of  them  was 
lying  on  at  least  four  chairs,  and  had  a  large  rough  jacket  on. 
In  a  corner  was  a  heap  of  coats  and  boat  cloaks,  and  a  flag,  all 
bundled  up  together. 

They  both  rolled  on  to  their  feet  in  an  untidy  sort  of  manner 
when  we  came  in,  and  said  "  Halloa  Murdstone  !  We  thought 
you  were  dead  !" 

"  Not  yet,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone. 

"  And    who's   this   shaver  ?"   said   one   of   the    gentlemen,  • 
taking  hold  of  me. 

"  That's  Davy,"  returned  Mr.  Murdstone. 

"  Davy  who  ?"  said  the  gentleman,  "  Jones  ?" 

"  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone. 

"  What !  Bewitching  Mrs.  Copperfield's  incumbrance  V* 
cried  the  gentleman.     "  The  pretty  little  widow  ?" 

"  Quinion,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  "  take  care  if  you  please. 
Somebody's  sharp." 

"  Who  is  ?"  asked  the  gentleman,  laughing. 

1  looked  up,  quickly  ;  being  curious  to  know. 

"Only  Brooks  of  Sheffield,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone. 

I  was  quite  relieved  to  find  it  was  only  Brooks  of  Sheffield ; 
for,  at  first,  I  really, thought  it  was  I. 

There  seemed  to  be  something  very  comical  in  the  reputation 
of  Mr.  Brooks  of  Sheffield,  for  both  the  gentlemen  laughed 
heartily  when  he  was  mentioned,  and  Mr.  Murdstone  was  a 
good  deal  amused  also.  After  some  laughing,  the  gentleman 
whom  he  had  called  Quinion,  said  : 

"  And  what  is  the  opinion  of  Brooks  of  Sheffield,  in  reference 
to  the  projected  business  ?" 

"  Why,  1  don't  know  that  Brooks  understands  much  about  it 
at  present,"  replied  Mr.  Murdstone  ;  "  but  he  is  not  generally 
favorable,  I  believe." 

There  was  more  laughter  at  this,  and  Mr.  Quinion  said,  he 
would  ring  the  bell  for  some  sherry  in  which  to  drink  to  Brooks. 
This  he  did,  and  when  the  wine  -came,  he  made  me  have  a 
Lttle,  with  a  biscuit,  and  before  I  drank  it,  stand  up  and  say 


DAVID     C  0  P  P  E  R  F  I E  L  D .  65 

"  Confussion  to  Brooks  of  Sheffield  !"  The  toast  was  received 
with  great  applause,  and  such  hearty  la  ighier  that  it  made  me 
laugh  too  ;  at  which  they  laughed  the  more.  In  short,  we 
quite  enjoyed  ourselves. 

We  walked  about  on  the  cliff  after  that,  and  sat  on  the 
grass,  and  looked  at  things  through  a  telescope — I  could  make 
oul  nothing  myself  when  it  was  put  to  my  eye,  but  I  pretended 
I  could — and  then  we  came  back  to  the  hotel  to  an  early  din- 
ner. All  the  time  we  were  out  the  two  gentlemen  smoked 
incessantly — which,  I  thought,  if  I  might  judge  from  the  smell 
of  their  rough  coats,  they  must  have  been  doing  ever  since  the 
coats  had  first  come  home  from  the  tailors'.  I  must  not  forget, 
that  we  went  on  board  the  yacht,  where  they  all  three  de- 
scended into  the  cabin,  and  were  busy  with  some  papers — I  saw 
them  quite  hard  at  work,  when  I  looked  down  through  the  open 
skylight.  They  left  me,  during  this  time,  with  a  very  nice 
man  with  a  very  large  head  of  red  hair  and  a  very  small  shiny 
hat  upon  it,  who  had  got  a  cross-barred  shirt  or  waistcoat  on, 
with  "  Skylark"  in  capital  letters,  across  the  chest.  I  thought 
It  was  his  name,  and  that,  as  he  lived  on  board  ship  and  hadn't 
a  street  door  to  put  his  name  on,  he  put  it  there  instead  ;  but 
when  I  called  him  Mr.  Skylark,  he  said  it  meant  the  vessel. 

I  observed  all  day  that  Mr.  Murdstone  was  graver  and 
steadier  than  the  two  gentlemen.  They  were  very  gay  and 
careless.  They  jok'ed  freely  with  one  another,  but  seldom 
with  him.  It  appeared  to  me  that  he  was  more  clever  and 
cold  than  they  were,  and  that  they  regarded  him  with  some 
thing  of  my  own  feeling.  I  remarked  that  once  or  twice  when 
Mr.  Quinion  was  talking,  he  looked  at  Mr.  Murdstone  side- 
ways, as  if  to  make  sure  'jf  his  not  being  displeased  ;  and  that 
once  when  Mr.  Jegg  (the  other  gentleman)  was  in  high  spirits, 
he  trod  upon  his  foot,  and  gave  him  a  secret  caution  with  his 
eyes,  to  observe  Mr.  Murdstone,  who  was  sitting  stern  and  si- 
lent. Nor  do  I  recollect  that  Mr.  Murdstone  lauglied  at  all  that 
iay,  except  at  the  Sheffield  joke — and  that,  by  the  by,  was  his 
own. 

We  went  home,  early  in  the  evening.     It  was  a  very  fine 


66  DAVID     COPPERFILLD. 

evening,  and  my  mother  and  he  had  another  stroll  by  the  sweet- 
brier  while  I  was  sent  in  to  get  my  tea.  When  he  was  eone, 
my  mother  asked  me  all  about  the  day  I  had  had,  and  what 
they  had  said  and  done.  I  mentioned  what  they  had  said  about 
her,  and  she  laughed,  and  told  me  they  were  impudent  fellows 
who  talked  nonsense — but  I  knew  it  pleased  her.  I  knew  it 
quite  as  well  as  I  know  it  now.  I  took  the  opportunity  of 
asking  if  she  was  at  all  acquainted  with  Mr.  Brooks  of  Shef- 
field, but  she  answered  No,  only  she  supposed  he  must  be  a 
manufacturer  in  the  knife  and  fork  way. 

Can  I  say  of  her  face — altered  as  I  have  reason  to  remember 
it,  perished  as  I  know  it  is — that  it  is  gone,  when  here  it  comes 
before  me  at  this  instant  as  distinct  as  any  face  that  I  may 
choose  to  look  on  in  a  crowded  street  ?  Can  I  say  of  her  inno- 
cent and  girlish  beauty,  that  it  faded,  and  was  no  more,  when 
its  breath  falls  on  my  cheek  now,  as  it  fell  that  night  ? 
Can  I  say  she  ever  changed,  when  my  remembrance  brings 
her  back  to  life,  thus  only,  and  truer  to  its  loving  youth  than  I 
have  been,  or  man  ever  is,  still  holds  fast  what  it  cherished  then  ? 

I  write  of  her  just  as  she  was  when  I  had  gone  to  bed  after 
this  talk,  and  she  came  to  bid  me  good  night.  She  kneeled 
down  playfully  by  the  side  of  the  bed,  and  laying  her  chin  upon 
her  hands,  and  laughing,  said  : 

"  What  was  it  they  said,  Davy  ?  Tell  me  again.  I  can't 
believe  it." 

" '  Bewitching '  "  I  began. 

My  mother  put  her  hands  upon  her  lips  to  stop  me. 

"  It  was  never  bewitching,"  she  said,  laughing.  "  It  never 
could  have  been  bewitching,  Davy.     Now  I  know  it  wasn't !" 

"  Yes  it  was.  '  Bewitching  Mrs.  Copperfield,'  "  I  repeated 
stoutly.     "  And  '  pretty.'  " 

"  No  no,  it  was  never  pretty.  Not  pretty,"  interposed  my 
mother,  laying  her  fingers  on  my  lips  again. 

"  Yes  it  was.     '  Pretty  little  widow.'  " 

"  What  foolish,  impudent  creatures !"  cried  my  mother, 
laughing  and  covering  her  face.  "  What  ridiculous  men  !  An't 
they  ?     Davy  dear " 


DAVID     C  0  r  r  E  11 F  i  E  L  D .  57 

"  Well,  Ma." 

"  Don't  tell  Peggotty  ;  she  might  be  angry  with  them.  I  an^ 
drt^dfully  angry  with  them  myself;  but  1  would  rather  Peg- 
gotty didn't  know." 

1  promised,  of  course,  and  we  kissed  one  another  over  and 
over  again,  and  I  soon  fell  fast  asleep. 

It  seems  to  me,  at  this  distance  of  time,  as  if  it  were  the  next 
day  when  Peggotty  broached  the  striking  and  adventurous  pro- 
position I  am  about  to  mention ;  but  it  was  probably  about  two 
months  afterwards. 

We  were  sitting  as  before,  one  evening  (when  my  mother 
was  out  as  before),  in  company  with  the  stocking  and  the  yard 
measure,  and  the  bit  of  wax,  and  the  box  with  Saint  Paul's  on 
the  lid,  and  the  crocodile  book,  when  Peggotty  after  looking 
at  me  several  times,  and  opening  her  mouth  as  if  she  were  going 
to  speak,  without  doing  it — which  I  thought  was  merely  gaping, 
or  I  should  have  been  rather  alarmed — said  coaxingly  : 

"  Master  Davy,  how  should  you  like  to  go  along  with  me 
and  spend  a  fortnight  at  my  brother's  at  Yarmouth  ?  Wouldn't 
that  be  a  treat  ?" 

"  Is  your  brother  an  agreeable  man,  Peggotty  ?"  I  inquired, 
provisionally. 

"  Oh  what  an  agreeable  man  he  is  !  "  cried  Peggotty,  holding 
up  her  hands.  "  Then  there's  the  sea  ;  and  the  boats  and 
ships ;  and  the  fishermen ;  and  the  beach  ;  and  Am  to  play 
with — " 

Peggotty  meant  her  nephew  Ham,  mentioned  in  my  first 
chapter ;  but  she  spoke  of  him  as  a  morsel  of  English  Gram- 
mar— first  person  singular,  present  tense  Indicative,  verb  neuter 
To  be. 

I  was  flushed  by  her  summary  of  delights,  and  replied  that 
It  would  indeed  be  a  treat,  but  what  would  my  mother  say  ? 

"  Why  then  I'll  as  good  as  bet  a  guinea,"  said  Peggotty,  in- 
lent  upon  my  face,  "  that  she'll  let  us  go.  I'll  ask  her,  if  you 
like,  as  soon  as  ever  she  comes  home.     There  now  !" 

"  But  what's  she  to  do  while  we're  away  ?"  said  I,  putting* 


68  DAVID     COPPEIIFIELD. 

my  small  elbows  on  the  table  to  argue  the  point.     "  She  can' 
live  by  herself." 

If  Peggotty  were  looking  for  a  hole,  all  of  a  sudden,  in  the 
heel  of  that  stocking,  it  must  have  been  a  very  little  one  indeed, 
^nd  not  worth  darninp. 

"  I  say  !  Peggotty  :     She  can't  live  by  herself,  you  know." 

"  Oh  bless  you  !"  said  Peggotty,  looking  at  me  again  at 
last.  "  Don't  you  know  ?  She's  going  to  stay  for  a  fortnight 
with  Mrs.  Grayper.  Mrs.  Grayper's  going  to  have  a  lot  of 
company." 

Oh  !  If  that  was  it,  I  was  quite  ready  to  go.  I  waited,  in 
the  utmost  impatience  until  my  mother  came  home  from  Mrs. 
Grayper's  (for  it  was  that  identical  neighbor)  to  ascertain  if  we 
could  get  leave  to  carry  out  this  great  idea.  Without  being 
nearly  so  much  surprised  as  I  had  expected,  my  mother  entered 
into  it  readily,  and  it  was  all  arranged  that  night,  and  my 
board  and  lodging  during  the  visit  were  to  be  paid  for. 

The  day  soon  came  for  our  going.  It  was  such  an  early 
day  that  it  came  soon,  even  to  me,  who  was  in  a  fever  of  expec- 
tation, and  half  afraid  that  an  earthquake  or  a  fiery  mountain, 
or  some  other  great  convulsion  of  nature  might  interpose  to 
stop  the  expedition.  We  were  to  go  in  a  carrier's  cart,  which 
departed  in  the  morning  after  breakfast.  I  would  have  given 
any  money  to  have  been  allowed  to  wrap  myself  up  over  night, 
and  sleep  in  my  hat  and  boots. 

It  touches  me  nearly  now,  although  I  tell  it  lightly,  to  recol- 
lect how  eager  I  was  to  leave  my  happy  home  ;  to  think  how 
little  I  suspected  what  I  did  leave  for  ever. 

I  am  glad  to  recollect  that  when  the  carrier's  cart  was  at  the 
gate,  and  my  mother  stood  there  kissing  me,  a  grateful  fondness 
for  her  and  for  the  old  place  I  had  never  turned  my  back 
upon  before,  made  me  cry.  I  am  glad  to  know  that  my 
mother  cried  too,  and  that  I  felt  her  heart  beat  against  mine. 

I  am  glad  to  recollect  that  when  the  carrier  began  to  move, 
my  mother  ran  out  at  the  gate,  and  called  to  him  to  stop,  that 
fihe  might  kiss  me  once  more.     I  am  glad  to  dwell  upon  the 


DAVID     COrPERFIELD.  59 

earnestness  and  love  with  which  she  lifted  up  her  face  to  mine, 
and  did  so. 

As  we  left  her  standing  in  the  road,  Mr.  Murdstone  came  up 
to  where  she  was,  and  seemed  to  expostulate  with  her  for  being 
so  moved.  I  was  looking  back  round  the  awning  of  the  cart, 
and  wondered  what  business  it  was  of  his.  Peggotty,  who  was 
also  looking  back  on  the  other  side,  seemed  any  thing  but  satis- 
fied ;   as  the  face  she  brought  back  into  the  cart  denoted. 

I  sat  looking  at  Peggotty  for  some  time,  in  a  reverie  on  this 
supposititious  case.  Whether,  if  she  were  employed  to  lose  me 
like  the  boy  in  the  fairy  tale,  I  should  be  able  to  track  my  way 
home  again  by  the  buttons  she  would  shed 


CHAPTER  III. 

I    HAVE    A    CHANGE. 

The  carrier's  liorse  was  the  laziest  horse  in  the  world,  I  shoul-d 
hope,  and  shuffled  along  with  his  head  down,  as  if  he  liked  to 
keep  the  people  waiting  to  whom  the  packages  were  directed. 
I  fancied,  indeed,  that  he  sometimes  chuckled  audibly  over 
this  reflection,  but  the  carrier  said  he  was  only  troubled  with  a 
cough. 

The  carrier  had  a  way  of  keeping  his  head  down,  like  his 
horse,  and  of  drooping  sleepily  forward  as  he  drove,  with  one 
of  his  arms  on  each  of  his  knees.  I  say  "  drove,"  but  it  struck 
me  that  the  cart  would  have  gone  to  Yarmouth  quite  as  well 
without  him,  for  the  horse  did  all  that — and  as  to  conversation, 
he  had  no  idea  of  it  but  whistlingr. 

Peggotty  had  got  a  basket  of  refreshments  on  her  knee,  which 
would  have  lasted  us  out  handsomely,  if  we  had  been  going  to 
London  by  the  same  conveyance.  We  ate  a  good  deal,  and 
slept  a  good  deal.  Peggotty  always  went  to  sleep  with  her 
chin  upon  the  handle  of  the  basket,  her  hold  of  which  never 
relaxed ;  and  I  could  not  have  believed  unless  I  had  heard  her 
do  it,  that  one  defenceless  woman  could  have  snored  so  much. 

We  made  so  many  deviations  up  and  down  lanes,  and  were 
such  a  long  time  delivering  a  bedstead  at  a  public  house,  and 
calling  at  other  places,  that  I  was  quite  tired,  and  very  glad, 
when  we  saw  Yarmouth.  It  looked  rather  spongy  and  soppy, 
I  thought,  as  I  carried  my  eye  over  the  great  dull  waste  that 
lay  across  the  river  ;  and  I  could  not  help  wondering,  if  the 
world  were  really  as  round  as  my  geography-book  said,  how 
any  part  of  it  came  to  be  so  flat.  But  I  reflected  that  Yar- 
mouth might  be  situated  at  one  of  the  poles ;  which  would 
account  for  it. 

As  we  drew  a  little  nearer,  and  saw  the  whole  adjacent 
prospect  lying  a  straight  low  line  under  the  sky,  I  hinted  to 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  61 

Peggotty  that  a  mound  or  so  might  have  improved  it,  and  also 
that  if  the  land  had  been  a  little  more  separated  from  the  sea, 
and  the  town  and  the  tide  had  not  been  quite  so  much  mixed 
up,  like  toast  and  water,  it  would  have  been  nicer.  But  Peg- 
gotty said,  with  greater  emphasis  than  usual,  that  we  must 
take  things  as  we  found  them,  and  that,  for  her  part,  she  was 
proud  to  call  herself  a  Yarmouth  Bloater. 

When  we  got  into  the  street  (which  was  strange  enough  to 
me)  and  smelt  the  fish,  and  pitch,  and  oakum,  and  tar,  and  saw 
the  sailors  walking  about,  and  the  carts  jingling  up  and  down 
over  the  stones,  I  felt  that  I  had  done  so  busy  a  place  an  in- 
justice, and  said  as  much  to  Peggotty,  who  heard  my  expres 
sions  of  delight  with  great  complacency,  and  told  me  it  waa 
well  known  (I  suppose  to  those  who  had  the  good  fortune 
to  be  born  Bloaters)  ^bat  Yarmouth  was,  upon  the  whole,  the 
finest  place  in  the  universe. 

"  Here's  my  Am  !"  screamed  Peggotty,  "  growed  out  of 
knowledge  V 

He  was  waiting  for  us,  in  fact,  at  the  public-house,  and  asked 
me  how  I  found  myself,  like  an  old  acquaintance.  I  did  not 
feel,  at  first,  that  1  knew  him  as  well  as  he  knew  me,  because 
he  had  never  come  to  our  house  since  the  night  I  was  born,  and 
naturally  he  had  the  advantage  of  me.  But  our  intimacy  was 
mtich  advanced  by  his  taking  me  on  his  back  to  carry  me 
home.  He  was  now,  a  huge,  strong  fellow  of  six  feet  high, 
broad  in  proportion,  and  round-shouldered ;  but  with  a  simper- 
ing boy's  face,  and  curly  light  hair,  that  gave  him  quite  a 
sheepish  look.  He  was  dressed  in  a  canvas  jacket,  and  a  pair 
of  such  very  stiff  trousers  that  they  would  have  stood  quite  as 
well  alone,  without  any  legs  in  thfim.  And  you  couldn't  so 
properly  have  said  he  wore  a  hat,  as  that  he  was  covered  in  a 
top,  like  an  old  building,  with  something  pitchy.' 

Ham  carrying  me  on  his  back  and  a  small  box  of  ours  under 
his  arm,  and  Peggotty  carrying  another  small  box  of  ours,  we 
turned  down  lanes  bestrewn  with  bits  of  chips  and  little  hillocks 
of  sand,  and  went  past  gas-works,  rope-walks,  boat-builders* 
yards,  shipwrights'  yards,  ship-breakers'  yards,  calkers'  yards, 


62  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

riggers'  lofts,  smiths'  forges,  and  a  great  litter  of  such  places, 
until  we  came  out  upon  the  dull  waste  I  had  already  seen  at  a 
distance  ;  when  Ham  said, 

"  Yon's  our  house,  Master  Davy  !" 

I  looked  in  all  directions,  as  far  as  I  could  stare  over  the 
wilderness,  and  away  at  the  sea,  and  away  at  the  river,  but  no 
house  could  /  make  out.  There  was  a  black  barge,  or  some 
other  kind  of  superannuated  boat,  not  far  off,  high  and  dry  on 
the  ground,  with  an  iron  funnel  sticking  out  of  it  for  a  chimney 
and  smoking  very  cosily,  but  nothing  else  in  the  way  of  a 
habitation  that  was  visible  to  me. 

"  That's  not  it  ?"  said  I,  "  that  ship-looking  thing  V 

*'  That's  it.  Master  Davy,"  returned  Ham. 

If  it  had  been  Aladdin's  Palace,  roc's  egg  and  all,  I  suppose 
I  could  not  have  been  more  charmed  with  the  romantic  idea  of 
living  in  it.  There  was  a  delightful  door  cut  in  the  side,  and 
it  was  roofed  in,  and  there  were  little  windows  in  it ;  but  the 
wonderful  charm  of  it  was,  that  it  was  a  real  boat  which  had 
no  doubt  been  upon  the  water  hundreds  of  times,  and  which 
had  never  been  intended  to  be  lived  in,  on  dry  land.  That  was 
the  captivation  of  it  to  me.  If  it  had  ever  been  meant  to  be 
lived  in,  I  might  have  thought  it  small,  or  inconvenient,  or 
lonely,  but  never  having  been  designed  for  any  such  use,  it 
became  a  perfect  abode. 

It  was  beautifully  clean  inside,  and  as  tidy  as  possible. 
There  was  a  table,  and  a  Dutch  clock,  and  a  chest  of  drawers, 
and  on  the  chest  of  drawers  there  was  a  tea-tray  with  a  paint- 
ing on  it  of  a  lady  with  a  parasol,  taking  a  walk  with  a  military- 
looking  child  who  was  trundling  a  hoop.  The  tray  was  kept 
from  tumbling  down,  by  a  Bible,  and  the  tray,  if  it  had  tumbled 
down,  would  have  smashed  a  quantity  of  cups  and  saucers  and 
a  teapot  that  were  grouped  around  the  book.  On  the  walls 
there  were  some  common  colored  pictures,  framed  and  glazed, 
of  Scripture  subjects,  su  ^,h  as  I  have  never  seen  since  in  the 
hands  of  pedlers,  without  seeing  the  whole  interior  of  Peggotty's 
brother's  house  again,  at  one  view.  Abraliam  in  red  going  to 
Bacrifice  Isaac  in  blue,  and  Daniel  in  yellow  cast  into  a  den  ot 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  63 

green  lions,  were  the  most  prominent  of  these.  Over  the  little 
mantel-shelf,  was  a  picture  of  the  Sarah  Jane  Lugger,  built  at 
Sunderland,  with  a  real  little  wooden  stern  stuck  on  to  it ;  a 
work  of  art,  combining  composition  with  carpentery,  which  I 
considered  to  be  one  of  the  most  enviable  possessions  that  the 
world  could  afford.  There  were  some  hooks  in  the  beams  of 
the  ceiling,  the  use  of  which  1  did  not  divine  then ;  and  some 
lockers  and  boxes  and  conveniences  of  that  sort,  which  served 
for  seats,  and  eked  out  the  chairs. 

All  this,  I  saw  in  the  first  glance  after  I  crossed  the  threshold 
— childlike,  according  to  my  theory — and  then  Peggotty  opened 
a  little  door  and  showed  me  my  bedroom.  It  was  the  com- 
pletest  and  most  desirable  bedroom  ever  seen  ;  in  the  stern  of 
the  vessel ;  with  a  little  window  where  the  rudder  used  to  go 
through  ;  a  little  looking-glass,  just  the  right  height  for  me, 
nailed  against  the  wall,  and  framed  with  oyster  shells ;  a  little 
bed  which  there  was  just  room  enough  to  get  into  ;  and  a  nose- 
gay of  seaweed  in  a  blue  mug  on  the  table.  The  walls  were 
whitewashed  as  white  as  milk,  and  the  patchwork  counterpane 
made  ray  eyes  quite  ache  with  its  brightness.  One  thing  I  par- 
ticularly noticed  in  this  delightful  house,  was  the  smell  of  fish ; 
which  was  so  searching  that  when  T  took  out  my  pocket-hand- 
kerchief to  wipe  my  nose,  I  found  it  smelt  exactly  as  if  it  had 
wrapped  up  a  lobster.  On  my  imparting  this  discovery  in  con- 
fidence to  Peggotty,  she  informed  me  that  her  brother  dealt  in 
lobsters,  crabs,  and  crawfish  ;  and  I  afterwards  found  that  a 
heap  of  these  creatures,  in  a  state  of  vvonderful  conglomeration 
with  one  another,  and  never  leaving  off  pinching  whatever  they 
laid  hold  of,  were  usually  to  be  found  in  a  little  wooden  cui- 
house  where  the  pots  and  kettles  were  kept. 

We  were  welcomed  by  a  very  civil  woman  in  a  white  apron, 
whom  I  had  seen  curtseying  at  the  door  when  I  was  on  Ham's 
back,  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  off.  Likewise  by  a  most 
beautiful  little  girl  (or  1  thought  her  so)  with  a  necklace  of 
blue  beads  on,  who  wouldn't  let  me  kiss  her  when  I  offered  to, 
but  ran  away  and  hid  herself.  By  and  by,  when  we  had  dined 
In  a  sumptuous  manner  off  boiled  dabs,  melted  butter,  and 


^i?  DAVID    COPTERFIELD. 

pctatoesj  with  a  chop  for  me,  a  hairy  man  with  a  very  good- 
natured  face,  came  home.  As  he  called  Peggotty  "  Lass," 
and  gave  her  a  hearty  smack  on  the  cheek,  I  had  no  doubt, 
from  the  general  propriety  of  her  conduct,  that  he  was  her 
brother ;  and  so  he  turned  out :  being  presently  introduced  to 
me  as  Mr.  Peggotty,  the  master  of  the  house. 

"  Glad  to  see  you,  Sir,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty.  "  You'll  find  us 
rough.  Sir,  but  you'll  find  us  ready." 

I  thanked  him,  and  replied  that  I  was  sure  I  should  be  happy 
in  such  a  delightful  place. 

"  How's  your  Ma,  Sir,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty.  "  Did  you  leave 
her  pretty  jolly  ?" 

I  gave  Mr.  Peggotty  to  understand  that  she  was  as  jolly  as 
I  could  wish,  and  that  she  desired  her  compliments — which  was 
a  polite  fiction  on  my  part. 

"  I'm  much  obleeged  to  her,  Pm  sure,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 
"  Well,  Sir,  if  you  can  make  out  here,  fur  a  fortnut,  'long 
wi'  her,"  nodding  at  his  sister,  "  and  Ham,  and  little  Em'ly, 
we  shall  be  proud  of  your  company." 

Having  done  the  honors  of  his  house  in  this  hospitable  man- 
ner, Mr.  Peggotty  went  out  to  wash  himself  in  a  kettlefull  of 
hot  water,  remarking  that  "  cold  would  never  get  Ids  muck 
off."  He  soon  returned,  greatly  improved  in  appearance,  but 
so  rubicund,  that  I  couldn't  help  thinking  his  face  had  this  in 
common  with  the  lobsters,  crabs,  and  crawfish  ; — that  it  went 
into  the  hot  water  very  black,  and  came  out  very  red. 

After  tea,  when  the  door  was  shut  and  all  was  made  snug  (the 
nights  being  cold  and  misty  now)  it  seemed  to  me  the  most  de- 
licious retreat  that  the  imagination  of  man  could  conceive. 
To  hear  the  wind  getting  up  out  at  sea,  to  know  that  the  fog 
was  creeping  over  the  desolate  flat  outside,  and  to  look  at  the 
fire,  and  think  that  there  was  no  house  near  but  this  one, 
and  this  one  a  boat,  was  like  enchantment.  Little  Em'ly  had 
overcome  her  shyness,  and  was  sitting  by  my  side  upon  the 
lowest  and  least  of  the  lockers,  which  was  just  large  enough 
for  us  two,  and  just  fitted  into  the  chimney  corner.  Mrs.  Peg- 
gotty with  the  white  apron,  was  knitting  on  the  opposite  side  of 


B 

cr 
o 


05 

o 


OF  THE 
b^^lVERSITY  OF  iLLIN^f^ 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  66 

the  fire.  Peggotty  at  her  needle- work  was  as  much  at  home 
with  Saint  Paul's  and  the  bit  of  wax-candle  as  if  they  had  never 
known  any  other  roof.  Ham,  who  had  been  giving  me  my 
first  lesson  in  all-fours,  was  trying  to  recollect  a  scheme  of  tell- 
ing fortunes  with  the  dirty  cards,  and  printing  off  fishy  im- 
pressions of  his  thumb  on  all  the  cards  he  turned.  Mr. 
Peggotty  was  smoking  his  pipe.  I  felt  it  was  a  time  for  con- 
versation and  confidence. 

"  Mr.  Peggotty  !"  says  I. 

"  Sir,"  says  he. 

"  Did  you  give  your  son  the  name  of  Ham,  because  you  Uvea 
in  a  sort  of  Ark  V 

Mr.  Peggotty  seemed  to  think  it  a  deep  idea,  but  answered : 

"No,  Sir.     I  never  giv  him  no  name." 

"  Who  gave  him  that  name,  then  V  said  I,  putting  question 
number  two  of  the  catechism  to  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  Why,  Sir,  his  father  giv  it  him,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  I  thought  you  were  his  father  \" 

"  My  brother  Joe  was  Ms  father,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  Dead,  Mr.  Peggolty  ?"     I  hinted,  after  a  respectful  pause. 

"  Drowndead,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

1  was  very  much  surprised  that  Mr.  Peggotty  was  not 
Ham's  father,  and  began  to  wonder  whether  I  was  mistaken 
about  his  relationship  to  any  body  else  there.  1  was  so  curious  to 
know,  that  I  made  up  my  mind  to  have  it  out  with  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  Little  Em'ly/'  I  said,  glancing  at  her.  "  She  is  your 
daughter,  isn't  she,  Mr.  Peggotty  ?" 

"  No,  Sir.     My  brother-in-law,  Tom,  was  her  father." 

I  couldn't  help  it.  " — Dead,  Mr.  Peggotty  ?"  I  hinted,  after 
another  respectful  siler.v^T?. 

"  Drowndead,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

I  felt  the  difficulty  of  resuming  the  subject,  but  had  not  got 
to  the  bottom  of  it  yet,  and  must  attain  the  bottom  somehow. 
So  I  said  : 

*'  Haven't  you  any  children,  Mr.  Peggotty  ?" 

"  No,  master,"  he  answered,  with  a  short  laugh.     "  I'm  a 
baclieldore." 
4 


60  DAVID    COPPEREIELD. 

"A  bachelor!"  I  said,  astonished.  "Why,  wlio's  that,  Mr. 
Peggotty  ?"  pointing  to  the  person  in  the  apron  who  was  knitting. 

"  That's  Missis  Gummidge,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  Gummidge,  Mr.  Peggotty  ?" 

But  at  this  point,  Peggotty — I  mean  my  own  peculiar  Peg- 
gotty — made  such  impressive  motions  to  me  not  ♦o  ask  any 
further  questions,  that  I  could  only  sit  and  look  at  all  the  silent 
company,  until  it  was  time  to  go  to  bed.  Then,  in  the  privacy 
of  my  own  little  cabin,  she  informe<i  me  that  Ham  and  Em'ly 
were  an  orphan  nephew  and  niece,  whom  my  host  had  at  differ- 
ent tim€>s  adopted  in  their  childhood  when  they  were  left  desti- 
tute ;  and  that  Mrs.  Gummidge  was  the  widow  of  his  partner 
in  a  boat,  who  had  died  very  poor.  He  was  but  a  poor  man 
himself,  said  Peggotty,  but  as  good  as  gold  and  as  true  as  steel 
— those  were  her  similes.  The  only  subject,  she  informed  me, 
on  which  he  ever  showed  a  violent  temper  or  swore  an  oath, 
was  this  generosity  of  his ;  and  if  it  were  ever  referred  to,  by 
any  one  of  them,  he  struck  the  table  a  heavy  blow  with  his 
right  hand  (had  split  it  on  one  such  occasion),  and  swore  a 
dreadful  oath  that  he  would  be  "  gormed  "  if  he  didn't  cut  and 
run  for  good,  if  it  was  ever  mentioned  again.  It  appeared,  in 
answer  to  my  inquiries,  that  nobody  had  the  least  idea  of  the 
etymology  of  this  terrible  verb  passive  to  be  gormed  ;  but  that 
they  all  regarded  it  as  constituting  a  most  solemn  imprecation. 
•  I  wap  very  sensible  of  my  entertainer's  goodness,  and  listened 
to  the  women's  going  to  bed  in  another  little  crib  like  mine  at 
the  opposite  end  of  the  boat,  and  to  him  and  Ham  hanging  up 
two  hammocks  for  themselves  on  the  hooks  I  had  noticed  in  the 
roof,  in  a  very  luxurious  state  of  mind,  enhanced  by  my  being 
sleepy.  As  slumber  gradually  stole  upon  me,  I  heard  the  wind 
howling  out  at  sea  and  coming  on  across  the  flat  so  fiercely,  that 
1  had  a  lazy  apprehension  of  the  great  deep  rising  m  the  night. 
But  I  bethought  myself  that  I  was  in  a  boat,  after  all,  and  that 
a  man  iike  Mr.  Peggotty  was  not  a  bad  person  to  have  on  board 
if  any  thing  did  happen. 

Nothing  happened,  however,  worse  than  morning.  Almost 
as  soon  as  it  shone  upon  the  oyster- shell  frame  of  my  mirror,  I 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  67 

was  out  of  bed,  and  out  with  little  Em'ly,  picking  up  stones 
upon  the  beach. 

"  You're  quite  a  sailor,  I  suppose  ?"  I  said  to  Em'ly.  I  don*t 
know  that  I  supposed  any  thing  of  the  kind,  but  I  felt  it  an  act 
of  gallantry  to  say  something ;  and  a  shining  sail  close  to  us, 
made  such  a  pretty  little  image  of  itself,  at  the  moment,  in  her 
bright  eye,  that  it  came  into  my  head  to  say  this. 

"  No,"  replied  Em'ly,  shaking  her  head.  "  I'm  afraid  of 
the  sea." 

"  Afraid  !"  I  said,  with  a  becoming  air  of  boldness,  and 
looking  very  big  at  the  mighty  ocean,     "  /  ain't." 

*^  Ah  !  but  it's  cruel,"  said  Em'ly.  "  I  have  seen  it  very 
cruel  to  some  of  our  men.  I  have  seen  it  tear  a  boat  as  big  aa 
our  house,  all  to  pieces." 

"  I  hope  It  wasn't  the  boat  that " 

"  That  father  was  drownded  in  ?"  said  Em'ly.  "  No.  Not 
that  one,  I  never  see  that  boat." 

«  Nor  him  ?"  1  asked  her. 

Little  Em'ly  shook  her  head.     "  Not  to  remember  !" 

Here  was  a  coincidence  !  I  immediately  went  into  an  ex  ■ 
planation  how  I  had  never  seen  my  own  father,  and  how  niy 
mother  and  I  had  always  lived  by  ourselves  in  the  happiest 
state  imaginable,  and  lived  so  then,  and  always  meant  to  live 
80 ;  and  how  my  father's  grave  was  in  the  churchyard  near 
our  house,  and  shaded  by  a  tree,  beneath  the  boughs  of  which 
I  had  walked  and  heard  the  birds  sing  many  a  pleasant  morn- 
ing. But  there  were  some  differences  between  Em'ly's  orphan- 
hood and  mine,  it  appeared.  She  had  lost  her  mother  before 
her  father ;  and  where  her  father's  grave  was  no  one  knew, 
except  that  it  was  somewhere  in  the  depths  of  the  sea. 

"  Besides,"  said  Em'ly,  as  she  looked  about  for  shells  and 
pebbles,  "  your  father  was  a  gentleman  and  your  mother  is  a 
lady  ;  and  my  father  was  a  fisherman,  and  my  mother  was  a 
fisherman's  daughter,  and  my  uncle  Dan  is  a  fisherman." 

"  Dan  is  Mr.  Peggotty,  is  he  ?"     said  I. 

*'  Uncle  Dan — yonder,"  answered  Em'ly,  nodding  at  the 
boat-house. 


68  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

,"  Yes.   I  mean  him.   He  must  be  very  good,  I  shouU  think  ?" 

"  Good  ?"  said  Em'ly.  "  If  I  was  ever  to  be  a  lady,  I'd 
give  him  a  sky-blue  coat  with  diamond  buttons,  nankeen  trou- 
sers, a  red  velvet  waistcoat,  a  cocked  hat,  a  large  gold  watch, 
a  silver  pipe,  and  a  box  of  money." 

I  said  1  had  no  doubt  that  Mr.  Peggotty  well  deserved  these 
treasures.  I  must  acknowledge  that  1  felt  it  difficult  to  picture 
him  quite  at  his  ease  in  the  raiment  proposed  for  him  by  his 
grateful  little  niece,  and  that  I  was  particularly  doubtful  of  the 
policy  of  the  cocked  hat ;  but  I  kept  these  sentiments  to  myself. 
^Little  Em'ly  had  stopped  and  looked  up  at  the  sky  in  her 
enumeration  of  these  articles,  as  if  they  were  a  glorious  vision. 
We  went  on  again,  picking  up  shells  and  pebbles. 

"  You  would  like  to  be  a  lady  ?"  I  said. 

Emily  looked  at  me,  and  laughed,  and  nodded  "  yes." 

"  I  should  like  it  very  much.  We  would  all  be  gentlefolks 
together,  then.  Me,  and  uncle,  and  Ham,  and  Mrs.  Gummidge. 
We  wouldn't  mind  then,  when  there  come  stormy  weather. 
Not  for  our  own  sakes,  I  mean.  We  would  for  the  poor  fish- 
ermen's, to  be  sure,  and  we'd  help  'em  with  money  when  they 
come  to  any  hurt." 

This  seemed  to  me  to  be  a  very  satisfactory,  and  therefore  not 
at  all  improbable  picture.  I  expressed  my  pleasure  in  the  con- 
templation of  it,  and  little  Em'ly  was  emboldened  to  say,  shyly, 

*'  Don't  you  think  you  are  afraid  of  the  sea,  now  ?" 

It  was  quiet  enough  to  reassure  me,  but  I  have  no  doubt  if  I 
had  seen  a  moderately  large  wave  come  tumbling  in,  I  should 
have  taken  to  my  heels,  with  an  awful  recollection  of  her 
drowned  relations.  However,  I  said  "  No,"  and  I  added,  "  You 
don't  seem  to  be,  either,  though  you  say  you  are  ;" — for  she 
was  walking  much  too  near  the  brink  of  a  sort  of  old  jetty  or 
Wooden  causeway  we  had  strolled  upon,  and  1  was  afraid  of 
her  falling  over. 

"  I'm  not  afraid  in  this  way,"  said'  little  Em'ly.  "  But  I 
wake  when  it  blows,  and  tremble  to  think  of  uncle  Dan  and 
Ham,  and  believe  I  hear  'em  crying  out  for  help.     That's  why 


DAVID    COrrEnFIELD.  C9 

I  should  like  so  much  to  be  a  lady.  But  I'm  not  afraid  in  thia 
way.     Not  a  bit.     Look  here  !" 

She  started  from  my  side,  and  ran  along  a  jagged  timber 
which  protruded  from  the  place  we  stood  upon,  and  overhung 
the  deep  water  at  some  height,  without  the  least  defence.  Tlie 
mcident  is  so  impressed  on  my  remembrance,  that  if  I  were  a 
draughtsman  I  could  draw  its  form  here,  I  dare  say,  accurately 
as  it  was  that  day,  and  Liitle  Em'ly  springing  forward  to  her 
destruction  (as  it  appeared  to  me),  with  a  look  that  I  have  never 
forgotten,  directed  out  to  sea. 

The  light,  bold,  fluttering  little  figure  turned  and  came  back 
safe  to  me,  and  I  soon  laughed  at  my  fears,  and  at  the  cry  I 
had  uttered  ;  fruitlessly  in  any  case,  for  there  was  no  one  near. 
But  there  have  been  times  since,  in  my  manhood,  many  times 
there  have  been,  when  I  have  thought,  Is  it  possible,  among  the 
possibilities  of  hidden  things,  that  in  the  sudden  rashness  of  the 
chi'id  and  her  wild  look  so  far  off,  there  was  any  merciful  at- 
traction of  her  into  danger,  any  tempting  her  towards  him  per- 
mitted on  the  part  of  her  dead  father,  that  her  life  might  have 
a  chance  of  ending  that  day  !  There  has  been  a  time  since 
when  I  have  wondered  whether,  if  the  life  before  her  could 
have  been  revealed  to  me  at  a  glance,  and  so  revealed  as  that 
a  child  could  fully  comprehend  it,  and  if  her  preservation  could 
have  depended  on  a  motion  of  my  hand,  I  ought  to  have  held  it 
up  to  save  her.  There  has  been  a  time  since — I  do  not  say  it 
lasted  long,  but  it  has  been — when  I  have  asked  myself  the 
question,  would  it  have  been  better  for  little  Em'ly  to  have  had 
the  waters  close  above  her  head  that  morning  in  my  sight ;  and 
when  I  have  answered  Yes,  it  would  have  been. 

This  may  be  premature.  I  have  set  it  down  too  soon,  perhaps. 
But  let  it  stand. 

We  strolled  a  long  way,  and  loaded  ourselves  with  th'ngs 
that  we  thought  curious,  and  put  some  stranded  star-fish  care- 
fully back  into  the  water — I  hardly  know  enough  of  the  race  al 
this  moment  to  be  quite  certain  wliethor  they  had  ro:\i>on  to  ffH.'] 
obliged  to  us  for  doing  so,  or  the  reverse- -and  then  'nade  our 
way  home  to  Mr.  Peggotty's  dwelling.     VA'e  stoppeil  u  der  tha 


70         '  DAVID     COrPEKFIELD. 

lee  of  the  lobster-outhouse  to  exchange  an  innocent  kiss,  and 
went  in  to  breakfast  glowing  with  health  and  pleasure. 

"  Like  two  young  Mavishes,"  Mr.  Peggotty  said.  I  knew 
this  meant,  in  our  local  dialect,  like  two  young  thrushes,  and 
received  it  as  a  compliment. 

Of  course  1  was  in  love  with  little  Em'ly.  I  am  sure  I  loved 
that  baby  quite  as  truly,  quite  as  tenderly,  with  greater  purity, 
and  more  disinterestedness,  than  can  enter  into  the  best  love  of 
a  later  time  of  life,  high  and  ennobling  as  it  is.  I  am  sure  my 
fancy  raised  up  something  round  that  blue-eyed  mite  of  a  child, 
which  etherealized,  and  made  a  very  angel  of  her.  If,  any 
sunny  forenoon,  she  had  spread  a  little  pair  of  wings  and  flown 
away  before  my  eyes,  I  don't  think  I  should  have  regarded  it 
as  much  more  than  I  had  had  reason  to  expect. 

We  used  to  walk  about  that  dim  old  flat  at  Yarmouth  in  a 
loving  manner,  hours  and  hours.  The  days  sported  by  us,  as 
if  Time  had  not  grown  up  himself  yet,  but  were  a  child  too, 
and  always  at  play.  I  told  Em'ly  I  adored  her,  and  that  unless 
she  confessed  she  adored  me  I  should  be  reduced  to  the  neces- 
sity of  killing  myself  with  a  sword.  She  said  she  did,  and  I 
have  no  doubt  she  did. 

As  to  any  sense  of  inequality,  or  youthfiilness,  or  other  diffi- 
culty in  our  way,  little  Em'ly  and  i  had  no  such  trouble,  be- 
cause we  had  no  future.  We  made  no  more  provision  for 
growing  older,  than  we  did  for  growing  younger.  We  were 
the  admiration  of  Mrs.  Gummidge  and  Peggotty,  who  used  to 
whisper  of  an  evening  when  we  sat,  lovingly,  on  our  little  locker 
side  by  side,  "  Lor  !  wasn't  it  beautiful !"  Mr.  Peggotty 
stniled  at  us  from  behind  his  pipe,  and  Ham  grinned  all  the 
evening  and  did  nothing  else.  They  had  something  of  the  sort 
of  pleasure  in  us,  I  suppose,  that  they  might  have  had  in  a 
toy,  or  a  pocket  model  of  the  Colosseum. 

I  soon  found  out  that  Mrs.  Gummidge  did  not  always  make 
herself  so  agreeable  as  she  might  have  been  expected  to  do, 
under  the  circumstances  of  her  residence' with  Mr.  Peggotty. 
Mrs.  Gummidge's  was  rather  a  fretful  disposition,  and  she 
whimpered  more  sometimes  than  was  comfortable  for  other  par 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  71 

ties  in  so  small  an  establishment.  I  was  very  sorry  for  her, 
but  there  were  moments  when  it  would  have  been  more  agree- 
able, I  thought,  if  Mrs.  Gummidge  had  had  a  convenient  apart- 
ment of  her  own  to  retire  to,  and  had  stopped  there  until  her 
spirits  revived. 

Mr.  Peggotty  went  occasionally  to  a  public  house  callea 
The  Willing  Mind.  I  discovered  this,  by  his  being  out  on  the 
second  or  third  evening  of  our  visit,  and  by  Mrs.  Gummidge's 
looking  up  at  the  Dutch  clock,  between  eight  and  nine,  and 
saying  he  was  there,  and  that,  what  was  more,  she  had  known 
in  the  morning  he  would  go  there. 

Mrs.  Gummidge  had  been  in  a  low  state  all  day,  and  had 
burst  into  tears  in  the  forenoon,  when  the  fire  smoked.  "  I  am 
a  lone  lorn  creetur',"  were  Mrs.  Gummidge's  words,  when 
that  unpleasant  occurrence  took  place,  "  and  every  think  goes 
contrairy  with  me." 

"  Oh,  it  '11  soon  leave  off,"  said  Peggotty — I  again  mean  our 
Peggotty — "  and  besides,  you  know,  it's  not  more  disagreeablt» 
to  you  than  to  us." 

"  I  feel  it  more,"  said  Mrs.  Gummidge. 

It  was  a  very  cold  day,  with  cutting  blasts  of  wind.  Mrs. 
Gummidge's  peculiar  corner  of  the  fireside  seemed  to  me  to  be 
the  warmest  and  snuggest  in  the  place,  as  her  chair  was  cer- 
tainly the  easiest,  but  it  didn't  suit  her  that  day  at  all.  She 
was  constantly  complaining  of  the  cold,  and  of  its  occasioning 
a  visitation  in  her  back  which  she  called  "  the  creeps."  At 
last  she  shed  tears  on  that  subject,  and  said  again  that  she  was 
"  a  lone  lorn  creetur'  and  every  think  went  contrairy  with  her." 

"  It  is  certainly  very  cold,"  said  Peggotty.  "  Every  body 
must  feel  it." 

"  I  feel  it  more  than  other  people,"  said  Mrs.  Gummidge. 

So  at  dinner,  when  Mrs.  Gummidge  was  always  helped  im- 
mediately after  n>e,  to  whom  the  preference  was  given  as  a 
visitor  of  distinction.  The  fish  were  small  and  bony,  and  the 
potatoes  were  a  little  burnt.  We  all  acknowledged  that  we 
felt  this  something  of  a  disappointment ;  but  Mrs.  Gummidge 


72  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

said  she  felt  it  more  than  we  did,  and   shed   tears  again,   anu 
made  that  former  declaration  with  great  bitterness. 

Accordingly,  when  Mr.  Peggotty  came  home  about  nine 
o'clock,  this  unfortunate  Mrs.  Gummidge  was  knitting  in  hef 
corner  in  a  very  wretched  and  miserable  condition.  Peggotty 
had  been  working  cheerfully.  Ham  had  been  patching  up  a 
great  pair  of  water-boots,  and  I,  with  little  Em'ly  by  my  side, 
had  been  reading  to  them.  Mrs.  Gummidge  had  never  made 
any  other  remark  than  a  forlorn  sigh,  and  had  never  raised  her 
eyes  since  tea. 

"  Well,  Mates,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  taking  his  seat,  "  and 
how  are  you  ?" 

We  all  said  something,  or  looked  something,  to  welcome 
him,  except  Mrs.  Gummidge,  who  shook  her  head  over  her 
knitting. 

"  What's  amiss  ?"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  with  a  clap  of  hia 
hands.  "Cheer  up,  old  Mawther!"  (Mr.  Peggotty  meant 
old  girl.) 

Mrs.  Gummidge  did  not  appear  to  be  able  to  cheer  up.  She 
took  out  an  old  black  silk  handkerchief  and  wiped  her  eyes, 
but  instead  of  putting  it  in  her  pocket,  kept  it  out,  and  wiped 
them  again,  and  still  kept  it  out  ready  for  use. 

"  What's  amiss,  dame  ?"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  Nothing,"  returned  Mrs.  Gummidge.  "  You've  come 
from  The  Willing  Mind,  Dan'l  ?" 

"  Why  yes,  I've  took  a  short  spell  at  The  Willing  Mind  to- 
night," said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  I'm  sorry  I  should  drive  you  there,"  said  Mrs.  Gummidge* 

"  Drive  !  I  don't  want  no  driving,"  returned  Mr.  Peggotty, 
with  an  honest  laugh.     "  I  only  go  too  ready." 

"  Very  ready,"  said  Mrs.  Gummidge,  shaking  her  head,  and 
wiping  her  eyes.  "  Yes,  yes,  very  ready.  I  am  sorry  it 
should  be  along  of  me  that  you're  so  ready." 

"  Along  o'  you  ?  It  an't  along  o'  you  !"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 
"  Don't  ye  believe  a  bit  on  it." 

"  Yes,  yes,  it  is,"  cried  Mrs.  Gummidge.  "  I  know  what  I 
am.     I  know  that  I'm  a  lone  lorn  creetur,  and  not  only  that 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  73 

eveiy  think  goes  contrairy  with  me,  but  that  I  go  contrairv 
with  every  body.  Yes,  yes.  I  feel  more  than  other  people 
do,  and  I  show  it  more.     It's  my  misfortun'." 

I  really  couldn't  help  thinking  as  I  sat  taking  in  all  this, 
that  the  misfortune  extended  to  some  other  members  of  that 
family  besides  Mrs.  Gummidge.  But  Mr.  Peggotty  made  no 
Buch  retort,  only  answering  with  another  entreaty  to  Mrs.  Gum- 
midge to  cheer  up. 

"  I  an't  what  I  could  wish  myself  to  be,"  said  Mrs.  Gum- 
midge. "  I  am  far  from  it.  I  know  what  I  am.  My  troubles 
has  made  me  corftrairy.  I  feel  my  troubles,  and  they  make  me 
contrairy.  I  wish  I  didn't  feel  'em,  but  I  do.  I  wish  I  could 
be  hardened  to  'em,  but  I  an't.  I  make  the  house  uncomforta- 
ble. I  don't  wonder  at  it.  I've  made  your  sister  so  all  day, 
and  Master  Davy." 

Here  I  was  suddenly  melted,  and  roared  out,  "  No,  you 
haven't,  Mrs.  Gummidge  ;"  in  great  mental  distress. 

"  It's  far  from  right  that  I  should  do  it,"  said  Mrs.  Gummidge. 
"  It  an't  a  fit  return.  I  had  better  go  into  the  House  and  die. 
I  am  a  lone  lorn  creetur,  and  had  much  better  not  make  myself 
contrairy  here.  If  thinks  must  go  contrairy  with  me,  and  I 
must  go  contrairy  myself,  let  me  go  contrairy  in  my  Parisfei. 
Dan'l,  I'd  better  go  into  the  House,  and  die  and  be  a  riddance !" 

Mrs.  Gummidge  retired  with  these  words,  and  betook  herself 
to  bed.  When  she  was  gone,  Mr.  Peggotty,  who  had  not  exhi- 
bited a  trace  of  any  feeling  but  the  profoundest  sympathy,  looked 
round  upon  us,  and  nodding  his  head  with  a  lively  expression 
of  that  sentiment  still  animating  his  face,  said  in  a  whisper : 

"  She's  been  thinking  of  the  old  'un." 

I  did  not  quite  understand  what  Old  One  Mrs.  Gummidga 
was  supposed  to  have  fixed  her  mind  upon,  until  Peggotty,  on 
seeing  me  to  bed,  explained  that  it  was  the  late  Mr.  Gummidge, 
and  that  her  brother  always  took  that  for  a  received  truth  on 
Buch  occasions,  and  that  it  always  had  a  moving  effect  upon 
him.  Some  time  after  he  was  in  his  hammock  that  night,  I  heard 
him  myself  repeat  Id  Ham,  "  Poor  thing!  She's  been  thinking 
Df  the  old  'un!"     And  whenever  Mrs.  Gummidge  was  over- 


74  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

come  ii>  a  similar  manner  during  the  remainder  of  c  ar  stay 
(which  happened  some  few  times)  he  always  said  the  same 
thing  in  extenuation  of  the  circumstance,  and  always  with  the 
tenderest  commiseration. 

So  the  fortnight  slipped  away,  varied  by  nothing  but  the  va- 
riation of  the  tide,  which  altered  Mr.  Peggotty's  times  of  going 
out  and  coming  in,  and  altered  Ham's  engagements  also. 
When  the  latter  was  unemployed,  he  sometimes  walked  with 
us  to  show  us  the  boats  and  ships,  and  once  or  twice  he  took  us 
for  a  row.  I  don't  know  why  one  slight  set  of  impressions 
should  be  more  particularly  associated  with  a  place  than  an- 
other, though  I  believe  this  obtains  with  most  people,  in  refer- 
ence  especially,  to  the  associations  of  their  childhood.  I  never 
hear  the  name,  or  read  the  name,  of  Yarmouth,  but  I  am  re- 
minded of  a  certain  Sunday  morning  on  the  beach,  the  bells 
ringing  for  church,  little  Em'ly  leaning  on  my  shoulder,  Ham 
lazily  dropping  stones  into  the  water,  and  the  sun,  away  at  sea, 
just  breaking  through  the  heavy  mist,  and  showing  us  the  ships, 
like  their  own  shadows. 

At  last  the  day  came  for  going  home.  I  bore  up  against  the 
separation  from  Mr.  Peggotty  and  Mrs.  Gummidge,  but  my 
agony  of  mind  at  leaving  little  Em'ly  was  piercing.  We  went 
arm  in  arm  to  the  public  house  where  the  carrier  put  up,  and 
I  promised,  on  the  road,  to  write  to  her.  (I  redeemed  that  pro- 
mise afterwards  in  characters  larger  than  those  in  which  apart- 
ments are  usually  announced  in  manuscript,  as  being  to  let.) 
We  were  greatly  overcome  at  parting,  and  if  ever,  in  my  life, 
I  have  had  a  void  made  in  my  heart,  I  had  one  made  that  day. 

Now,  all  the  time  I  had  been  on  my  visit,  I  had  been  un- 
grateful to  my  home  again,  and  had  thought  little  or  nothing 
about  it.  But  I  was  no  sooner  turned  towards  it,  than  my  re- 
proachful young  conscience  seemed  to  point  that  way  with  a 
steady  finger,  and  I  felt,  all  the  more  for  the  sinking  of  my  spi- 
rits, that  it  was  my  nest,  and  that  my  mother  was  my  comforter 
and  friend. 

This  gained  upon  me  as  we  went  along  ;  so  that  the  nearer 
we  drew,  and  the  more   familiar  the  objects  became  that  we 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  75 

r?i3sed,  the  more  excited  I  was  to  ge'  there,  and  to  run  into  lier 
arms.  But  Peggotty,  instead  of  sharing  in  these  transports, 
tried  to  check  them  (though  very  kindly)  and  looked  confused 
ftnd  cut  of  sorts. 

Blunderstone  Rookery  would  come,  however,  in  spite  of  her 
when  the  carrier's  horse  plcEised — and  did.  How  well  I  recol- 
lect  it,  on  a  cold  gray  afternoon,  with  a  dull  sky,  threatening  rain ! 

The  door  opened,  and  I  looked,  half  laughing  and  half  cry- 
ing in  my  pleasant  agitation,  for  my  mother.  It  was  not  she, 
but  a  strange  servant. 

"  Why,  Peggotty  !"  I  said  ruefully.  "  Isn't  she  come  home  V* 

"  Yes,  yes,  Master  Davy,"  said  Peggotty.  "  She's  come  home. 
Wait  a  bit.  Master  Davy,  and  I'll — I'll  tell  you  something." 

Between  her  agitation  and  her  natural  awkwardness  in  getting 
out  of  the  cart,  Peggotty  was  making  a  most  extraordinary  fes- 
toon of  herself,  but  I  felt  too  blank  and  strange  to  tell  her  so. 
When  she  had  got  down,  she  took  me  by  the  hand  ;  led  me, 
wondering,  into  the  kitchen  ;    and  shut  the  door. 

"  Peggotty  !"  said  I,  quite  frightened.    "  What's  the  matter?" 

"  Nothing's  the  matter,  bless  you.  Master  Davy,  dear !"  she 
answered,  assuming  an  air  of  sprightliness. 

"  Something's  the  matter,  I  am  sure.     Where's  mamma  ?" 

"  Where's  mamma.  Master  Davy  ?"  repeated  Peggotty. 

"  Yes.  Why  hasn't  she  come  out  of  the  gate,  and  what  have 
we  come  m  here  for  ?  Oh,  Peggstty  !"  My  eyes  were  full, 
and  I  fell  as  if  I  were  going  to  tumble  down. 

"  Bless  the  precious  boy  !"  cried  Peggotty,  taking  hold  of  me. 
"  What  is  it  ?     Speak,  my  pet !" 

"  Not  dead  too  !     Oh,  she's  not  dead,  Peggotty  ?" 

Peggotty  cried  out  with  an  astonishing  volume  of  voice,  and 
then  sat  down,  and  began  to  pant,  and  said  I  had  given  her  a  turn. 

I  gave  her  a  hug  to  take  away  the  turn,  or  to  give  her  another 
turn  in  the  right  direction,  and  then  stood  before  her,  looking  at 
her  in  dumb  inquiry. 

"  You  see,  dear,  I  should  have  told  you'  before  now,"  said 
Peggotty,  "  but  I  hadn't  an  opportunity.  I  ought  to  have  made 
it,  perhaps,  but  I  couldn't  axackly  " — thai  was  always  the  sub 


76  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

stitute  for  exactly,  in  Peggotty's  militia  of  words — "  bring  my 
mind  to  it." 

"  Go  on,  Peggotty,"  says  I,  more  frightened  than  ever. 

"  Master  Davy,"  said  Peggotty,  untying  her  bonnet  with  a 
shaking  hand,  and  speaking  in  a  breathless  sort  of  way,  "  what 
do  you  think  ?     You  have  got  a  Pa  !" 

I  trembled  and  turned  white.  Something — I  don't  know  what, 
or  how — connected  with  the  grave  in  the  churchyard,  and  the 
raising  of  the  Dead,  seemed  to  strike  me  like  an  unwholesome 
wind. 

"  A  new  one,"  said  Peggotty. 

"  A  new  one  ?"  I  repeated. 

"  Peggotty  gave  a  gasp,  as  if  she  were  swallowing  something 
that  was  very  hard,  and,  putting  out  her  hand,  said  : 

"  Come  and  see  him." 

"  I  don't  want  to  see  him." 

—  "And  your  mamma,"  said  Peggotty. 

I  ceased  to  draw  back,  and  we  went  straight  to  the  best  par- 
lor, where  she  left  me.  On  one  side  of  the  fire  sat  my  mother  ; 
on  the  other,  Mr.  Murdstone.  My  mother  dropped  her  work, 
and  arose  hurriedly,  but  timidly  1  thought. 

"Now,  Clara,  my  dear,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone.  "  Recollect ! 
control  yourself,  always  control  yourself!  Davy  boy,  how  do 
you  do  ?" 

1  gave  him  my  hand.  After  a  moment  of  suspense,  I  went 
and  kissed  my  mother ;  she  kissed  me,  patted  me  gently  on  the 
shoulder,  and  sat  down  again  to  her  work.  I  could  not  look  at 
her,  I  could  not  look  at  him,  I  knew  quite  well  that  he  was  look- 
ing at  us  both — and  1  turned  to  the  window  and  looked  out  there, 
at  some  shrubs  that  were  drooping  their  heads  in  the  cold. 

As  soon  as  I  could  creep  away,  I  crept  up  stairs.  My  old  dear 
bedroom  was  changed,  and  I  was  to  lie  a  long  way  off.  I  ram- 
bled down  stairs  to  find  any  thing  that  was  like  itself;  so  altered 
it  all  seemed  ;  and  roamed  into  the  yard.  I  very  soon  started 
back  from  there,  for  the  empty  dog-kennel  was  filled  up  with  a 
great  dog — deep-mouthed  and  black-haired  like  Him — and  he 
was  very  angry  at  the  sight  of  me,  and  sprung  out  to  get  at  me 


CHAPTER  IV. 


I    FALL    INTO    DISGRACE. 


If  the  room  to  which  my  bed  was  removed,  were  a  seii kient  thing 
that  could  give  evidence,  I  might  appeal  to  it  at  this  day — who 
Bleeps  there  now  I  wonder ! — to  bear  witness  for  me  what  a 
heavy  heart  I  carried  to  it.  I  went  up  there,  hearing  the  dog  in  the 
yard  bark  after  me  all  the  way  while  I  climbed  the  stairs ;  and,  look- 
mg  as  blank  and  strange  upon  the  room  as  the  room  looked  upon 
me,  sat  down  wth  my  small  hands  crossed,  and  thought. 

I  thought  of  the  oddest  things.  Of  the  shape  of  the  room,  of  the 
cracks  in  the  ceiling,  of  the  paper  on  the  wall,  of  the  flaws  in  the 
window-glass  making  ripples  and  dimples  on  the  prospect,  of  the 
washing-stand  being  ricketty  on  its  three  legs,  and  having  a  dis- 
contented something  about  it,  which  reminded  me  of  Mrs.  Gum- 
midge  under  the  influence  of  the  old  one.  I  was  crying  all  the 
time,  but,  except  that  I  was  conscious  of  being  cold  and  dejected,  I 
am  sure  I  never  thought  why  I  cried.  At  last  in  my  desolation  I 
began  to  consider  that  I  was  dreadfully  in  love  with  little  Em'ly, 
and  had  been  torn  away  from  her  to  come  here  where  no  one 
seemed  to  want  me,  or  to  care  about  me,  half  as  much  as  she  did. 
This  made  such  a  very  miserable  piece  of  business  of  it,  that  I  rolled 
myself  up  in  a  corner  of  the  counterpane,  and  cried  myself  to 
sleep. 

I  was  awoke  by  somebody  saying  "  Here  he  is  !"  and  uncovering 
my  hot  head.  My  mother  and  Peggotty  had  come  to  look  for  me, 
and  it  was  one  of  them  who  had  done  it. 

"  Davy,"  said  my  mother.     "  "What's  the  matter  ?" 

I  thought  it  very  strange  that  she  should  ask  me,  and  answered 
"Nothing."  I  turned  over  on  my  face,  I  recollect,  to  hide  my 
trembhng  lip,  which  answered  her  with  greater  truth. 

"  Davy,"  said  my  mother.     "  Davy,  my  child  !" 

I  dare  say  no  words  she  could  have  uttered,  would  have  affected 


78  DAVID    COPTERFIELD. 

me  so  much,  then,  as  her  calhng  me  her  child.  I  hid  my  tear&  in 
the  bedclothes,  and  pressed  her  fi-om  me  with  my  liand,  when  sshe 
would  have  raised  me  up. 

"  This  is  your  doing,  Peggotty,  you  cruel  thing  !"  said  my  mother. 
"  I  have  no  doubt  at  all  about  it.  How  can  you  reconcile  it  to  your 
conscience,  I  wonder,  to  prejudice  my  own  boy  against  me,  or 
against  anybody  who  is  dear  to  me  ?  What  do  you  mean  by  it, 
Peggotty  ?" 

Poor  Peggotty  lifted  up  her  hands  and  eyes,  and  only  answered, 
in  a  sort  of  paraphrase  of  the  grace  I  usually  repeated  after  dinner, 
"Lord  forgive  you,  Mi-s.  Copperfield,  and  for  what  you  have  said 
this  minute,  may  you  never  be  truly  sorry !" 

"  It's  enough  to  distract  me,"  cried  my  mother.  "  In  my  honey- 
moon, too,  when  my  most  inveterate  enemy  might  relent,  one  would 
think,  and  not  envy  me  a  Httle  peace  of  mind  and  happiness. 
Da\y,  you  naughty  boy !  Peggott}^,  you  savage  creature  !  Oh, 
dear  me !"  cried  my  mother,  turning  from  one  of  us  to  the  other,  in 
her  pettish  wilful  manner,  "  what  a  troublesome  world  this  is,  when 
one  has  the  most  right  to  expect  it  to  be  as  agreeable  as  possible  !" 

I  felt  the  touch  of  a  hand  that  1  knew  was  neither  her's  nor 
Peggotty's,  and  slipped  to  my  feet  at  the  bedside.  It  was  Mr. 
Mm'dstone's  hand,  and  he  kept  it  on  my  arm  as  he  said : 

"  What's  this  ?  Clara,  my  love,  have  you  forgotten  ? — Fu-mness, 
my  dear  ?" 

"  I  am  very  sorry,  Edward,"  said  my  mother.  "  I  meant  to  be 
ver}'-  good,  but  I  am  so  uncomfortable." 

"  Indeed !"  he  aifcwered.  "  That's  a  bad  hearing,  so  soon, 
Clara." 

"  I  say  it's  very  hard  I  should  be  made  so  now,"  returned  my 
mother,  pouting  ;  "  and  it  is — very  hard — isn't  it  ?" 

He  drew  her  to  him,  whispered  in  her  ear,  and  kissed  her.  I 
knew  as  well,  when  I  saw  my  mother's  head  lean  down  upon  his 
shoulder,  and  her  arm  touch  his  neck — I  knew  as  well  that  he  could 
mould  her  phant  nature  into  any  form  he  chose,  as  I  know,  now, 
that  he  did  it. 

"  Go  you  below,  my  love,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone.  "  DaAid  and  I 
will  come  down,  together.  My  friend,"  turning  a  darkening 
fece  on  Peggotty    when   he   had   watched   my   mother   out   and 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  79 

dismissed  her  with  a  nod  and  a  smile :  "  do  you  know  your  mis* 
tress's  name  ?" 

"  She  has  been  my  mistress  a  long  time,  sir,"  answered  Peggotty, 
"  I  ought  to  it." 

"  That's  true,"  he  answered.  "But  I  thought  I  heard  you,  as  I 
came  upstairs,  address  her  by  a  name  that  is  not  hers.  She  has 
taken  mine,  you  know.     Will  you  i-emember  that  ?" 

Peggotty,  with  some  uneasy  glances  at  me,  curtseyed  herself  out 
of  the  room  without  replying ;  seeing,  I  suppose,  that  she  was  ex- 
pected to  go,  and  had  no  excuse  for  remaining.  When  we  two 
were  left  alone,  he  shut  the  door,  and  sitting  on  a  chair,  and  holding 
me  standing  before  him,  looked  steadily  into  my  eyes.  I  felt  my  own 
attracted,  no  less  steadily,  to  his.  As  I  recall  our  being  opposed 
thus,  face  to  face,  I  seem  again  to  hear  my  heart  beat  fast  and 
high. 

"  David,"  he  said,  making  his  Hps  thin,  by  pressing  them  to- 
gether, "  if  I  have  an  obstinate  horse  or  dog  to  deal  with,  what  do 
you  think  I  do  ?" 

"  I  don't  know." 

"  I  beat  him." 

I  had  answered  in  a  kind  of  breathless  whisper,  but  I  felt,  in  mj 
silence,  that  my  breath  was  shorter  now. 

"  I  make  him  wince,  and  smart.  I  say  to  myself,  '  I'll  conquer 
that  fellow ;'  and  if  it  were  to  cost  him  all  the  blood  he  had,  I  should 
do  it.     What  is  that  upon  your  face  ?" 

"Dirt,"  I  said. 

He  knew  it  was  the  mark  of  tears  as  well  as  T.  But  if  he  had 
asked  the  question  twenty  times,  each  time  with  twenty  blows, 
I  beheve  my  baby  heart  would  have  bmst  before  I  would  have  told 
him  so. 

"  You  have  a  good  deal  of  intelligence  for  a  little  fellow,"  he  said, 
with  a  grave  smile  that  belonged  to  him,  "  and  you  understood  me 
very  well,  I  see.     Wash  that  face,  sir,  and  come  down  with  me." 

He  pointed  to  the  washing-stand,  which  I  had  made  out  to  be  like 
Mrs.  Gummidge,  and  motioned  me  with  his  head  to  obey  him  di- 
rectly. I  had  little  doubt  then,  and  I  have  less  doubt  now,  that  he 
would  have  knocked  me  down  without  the  least  compunction,  if  I  had 
hesitated. 


80  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

"  Clara,  mj  dear,"  lie  said,  wlien  I  had  done  liis  bidding,  and  he 
vs.- liked  me  into  the  parlor,  with  his  hand  still  on  my  arm,  "you  will 
li'A  be  made  uncomfortable  any  more,  I  hope.  We  shall  soon 
improve  our  youthful  humoiu's." 

God  help  me,  I  might  have  been  improved  for  my  whole  hfe, 
I  might  have  been  made  another  creature,  perhaps,  for  life,  by  a  kind 
word  at  that  season.  A  word  of  encouragement  and  exj^lanation,  of 
pity  for  my  childish  ignorance,  of  welcome  home,  of  reassurance  to 
me  that  it  was  home,  might  have  made  me  dutiful  to  him  in  my 
heart  henceforth,  instead  of  in  my  hypociitical  outside,  and  might 
have  made  me  respect  instead  of  hate  him.  I  thought  my  mother 
was  sorry  to  see  me  standing  in  the  room  so  scared  and  strange,  and 
that,  presently,  when  I  stole  to  a  chair,  she  followed  me  with  her 
eyes  more  sorrowfully  still — missing,  perhaps,  some  freedom  in  my 
childish  tread — but  the  word  was  not  spoken,  and  the  time  for  it 
was  gone. 

We  dined  alone,  we  three  together.  He  seemed  to  be  very  fond 
of  my  mother — I  am  afraid  I  hked  him  none  the  better  for  that — 
and  she  was  very  fond  of  him.  I  gathered  from  what  they  said,  that 
an  elder  sister  of  his  was  coming  to  stay  with  them,  and  that  she  was 
expected  that  evening.  I  am  not  certain  whether  I  found  out  then, 
or  afterwards,  that,  \^dthout  being  actively  concerned  in  any  business, 
be  had  some  share  in,  or  some  annual  charge  upon  the  profits  of,  a 
^vine-merchant's  house  in  London,  with  which  his  family  had  been 
connected  fi*om  his  great-grandfather's  time,  and  in  which  his  sister 
had  a  similar  interest ;  but  I  may  mention  it  in  tliis  place,  whether 
01  no. 

After  dinner,  when  we  were  sitting  by  the  fire,  and  I  was  medi- 
tating an  escape  to  Peggotty  without  having  the  hardihood  to  sHp 
away,  lest  it  should  offend  the  master  of  the  house,  a  coach  drove 
up  to  the  garden  gate,  and  he  went  out  to  receive  the  visitor.  My 
mother  followed  him.  I  was  timidly  following  her,  when  she  turned 
round  at  the  parlor  door,  in  the  dusk,  and  taking  me  in  her  embrace 
as  she  used  to  do,  wliispered  me  to  love  my  new  father  and  be  obe- 
dient to  him.  She  did  this  hurriedly  and  secretly,  as  if  it  were 
^vTong,  but  tenderly ;  and,  putting  out  her  hand  behind  her,  held 
'mine  in  it  until  we  came  near  to  where  he  was  standino:  in  the 
garden,  where  she  let  mine  go,  and  di'ew  her's  through  his  arm. 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  81 

It  was  Miss  Murdstone  who  was  arrived,  and  a  gloomy-looking 
lady  she  was ;  dark,  like  her  brother,  whom  she  greatly  resembled  in 
face  and  voice ;  and  with  very  heavy  eyebrows,  nearly  meeting  over 
her  large  nose,  as  if,  being  disabled  by  the  wrongs  of  her  sex  from 
^^•earing  whiskers,  she  had  carried  them  to  that  account.  She 
brought  with  her  two  uncompromising  hard  black  boxes,  with  her 
initials  on  the  hds  in  hard  brass  nails.  When  she  paid  the  coach- 
man she  took  her  money  out  of  a  hard  steel  purse,  and  she  kept  the 
purse  in  a  very  jail  of  a  bag  which  hung  upon  her  arm  by  a  heavy 
chain,  and  shut  up  hke  a  bite.  I  had  never,  at  that  time,  seen  such 
a  metallic  lady  altogether  as  Miss  Murdstone  was. 

She  was  brought  into  the  parlor  with  many  tokens  of  welcome, 
and  there  formally  recognised  my  mother  as  a  new  and  near  relation. 
Then  she  looked  at  me,  and  said  : 

"  Is  that  your  boy,  sister-in-law  ?" 

My  mother  acknowledged  me. 

"  Generally  speaking,"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  "  I  don't  like  boys. 
How  d'ye  do,  boy  ?" 

Under  these  encouraging  circumstances,  I  rephed  that  I  was  very 
well,  and  that  I  hoped  she  was  the  same  ;  with  such  an  indifferent 
grace,  that  Miss  Murdstone  disposed  of  me  in  two  words ; 

"  Wants  manner." 

Having  uttered  which,  with  great  distinctness,  she  begged  the 
favor  of  being  shown  to  her  room,  which  became  to  me  from  that 
time  forth  a  place  of  awe  and  dread,  wherein  the  two  black  boxes 
were  never  seen  open  or  known  to  be  left  unlocked,  and  where  (for  I 
peeped  in  once  or  twice  when  she  was  out)  numerous  httle  steel  fet- 
ters and  rivets,  with  which  Miss  Murdstone  embellished  herself  when 
she  was  dressed,  generally  hung  upon  the  looking-glass  in  formidable 
array. 

As  well  as  I  could  make  out,  she  had  come  for  good,  and  had  no 
intention  of  ever  going  again.  She  began  to  "  help"  my  mother 
next  morning,  and  was  in  and  out  of  the  store-closet  all  day,  putting 
things  to  rights,  and  making  havoc  in  the  old  arrangements. 
Almost  the  firet  remarkable  thing  I  observed  in  Miss  Murdstone  was, 
her  being  constantly  haunted  by  a  suspicion  that  the  servants  had  a 
man  secreted  somewhere  on  the  premises.  Under  the  influence  of 
this  delusion,  she  dived  into  the  coal-cellar  at  the  most  untimely 


82  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

hours,  and  scarcely  ever  opened  the  door  of  a  dark  cupboard  without 
clapping  it  to  again,  in  the  belief  that  she  had  got  him. 

Though  there  was  nothing  very  airy  about  Miss  Murdstone,  she 
was  a  perfect  Lark  in  point  of  getting  up.  She  was  up  (and,  as  t 
behe\'e  to  this  hoiu-,  looking  for  that  man)  before  anybody  in  the 
house  was  stirring.  Peggotty  gave  it  as  her  opinion  that  she  even 
slept  with  one  eye  open  ;  but  I  could  not  concur  in  this  idea ;  for  I 
tried  it  myself  after  hearing  the  suggestion  thrown  out,  and  found  it 
couldn't  be  done. 

On  the  very  fii-st  morning  after  her  arrival  she  was  up  and  ringing 
her  beU  at  cock-crow.  When  my  mother  came  down  to  breakfast 
and  was  going  to  make  the  tea,  Miss  Murdstone  gave  her  a  kind  of 
peck  on  the  cheek,  which  was  her  nearest  approach  to  a  kiss,  and 
said : 

"  Now,  Clara,  my  dear,  I  am  come  here,  you  know,  to  relieve  you 
of  all  the  trouble  I  can.  You're  much  too  pretty  and  thoughtless" — 
my  mother  blushed  but  laughed,  and  seemed  not  to  dishke  thi?  cha- 
racter— "  to  have  any  duties  imposed  upon  you  that  can  be  under- 
taken by  me.  If  you'll  be  so  good  as  to  give  me  your  keys,  my 
dear,  I'll  attend  to  all  this  sort  of  thing  in  future." 

From  that  time.  Miss  Murdstone  kept  the  keys  in  her  own  httle 
^ail  all  day,  and  under  her  pillow  all  night,  and  my  mother  had 
no  more  to  do  with  them  than  I  had. 

My  mother  did  not  suffer  her  authority  to  pass  from  her  without  a 
ihadow  of  protest.  One  night  when  Miss  Murdstone  had  been 
developing  certain  household  plans  to  her  brother,  of  which  he  signi- 
fied his  approbation,  my  mother  suddenly  began  to  cry,  and  said  she 
thouo^ht  she  mio^ht  have  been  consulted. 

"  Clara !"  said  Mr.  Murdstone  sternly.  "  Clara !  I  wonder  at 
you." 

"  Oh,  ifs  very  well  to  say  you  wonder,  Edward !"  cried  my 
mother,  "  and  it's  very  well  for  you  to  talk  about  firmness,  but  you 
wouldn't  like  it  yourself." 

Firmness,  I  may  observe,  was  the  grand  quality  on  which  both 
Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  took  their  stand.  However  I  might  have 
expressed  my  comprehension  of  it  at  that  time,  if  I  had  been  called 
upon,  I  nevertheless  did  clearly  comjDrehend  in  my  own  way,  that  it 
was  another  name  for  tyranny,  and  for  a  certain  gloomy,  arrogant* 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  83 

devil's  humour,  that  was  in  them  both.  The  creed,  as  I  should 
state  it  now,  was  this.  Mr.  Murdstone  was  firm  ;  nobody  in  hia 
world  was  to  be  so  firm  as  Mr.  Murdstone  ;  nobody  else  in  his  world 
was  to  be  firm  at  all,  for  everybody  was  to  be  bent  to  his  firmness. 
Miss  Murdstone  was  an  exception.  She  might  be  firm,  but  only  by 
relationship,  and  in  an  inferior  and  tributary  degree.  My  mother 
was  another  exception.  She  might  be  firm,  and  must  be  ;  but  only 
in  bearing  their  finnness,  and  firmly  believing  there  was  no  other 
firmness  upon  earth. 

"  It's  very  hard,"  said  my  mother,  "  that  in  my  own  house — ^" 

"  My  own  house  ?"  repeated  Mr.  Murdstone.     "  Clara  ?" 

"  Our  own  house  I  mean,"  faltered  my  mother,  evidently  fnghtened 
■ — "  I  hope  you  must  know  what  I  mean,  Edward — it's  very  hard 
that  in  our  own  house  I  may  not  have  a  word  to  say  about  domestic 
matters.  I  am  sure  I  managed  very  well  before  we  were  married. 
There's  evidence,"  said  my  mother  sobbing ;  "  ask  Peggotty  if  I 
didn't  do  very  well  when  I  wasn't  interfered  with  !" 

"  Edward,"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  "  let  there  be  an  end  of  this.  T 
go  to-morrow." 

"  Jane  Murdstone,"  said  her  brother,  "  be  silent !  How  dare  you 
to  insinuate  that  you  don't  know  my  character  better  than  your 
words  imply  ?" 

"  I  am  sure,"  my  poor  mother  went  on,  at  a  grievous  disadvantage, 
and  with  many  tears,  "  I  don't  want  anybody  to  go.  I  should  be 
very  miserable  and  unhappy  if  anybody  was  to  go.  I  don't  ask 
much.  I  am  not  unreasonable.  I  only  want  to  be  consulted 
sometimes.  I  am  very  much  obhged  to  anybody  who  assists  me, 
and  I  only  want  to  be  consulted  as  a  mere  form,  sometimes.  I 
thought  you  were  pleased,  once,  witb  my  being  a  little  inexperienced 
and  girhsh,  Edward — I  am  sure  you  said  so — but  you  seem  to  hate 
me  for  it  now,  you  are  so  severe." 

"  Edward,"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  again,  "  let  there  be  an  end  of 
this.     I  go  to-morrow." 

"Jane  Murdstone,"  thundered  Mr.  Mu-dstone.  "Will  you  be 
«ilent  ?     How  dare  you  ?" 

Miss  Murdstone  made  a  jail-delivery  of  her  pocket-handkerchief 
and  held  it  before  her  eyes. 

**  Clara,"  he  continued,  looking  at  my  mother,  "  you  surprise  me. 


84  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

You  astound  me !  Yes,  I  had  a  satisfaction  in  the  thought  of 
marrpng  an  inexperienced  and  artless  person,  and  forming  hef 
character,  and  infusing  into  it  some  amount  of  that  firmness  and 
decision  of  which  it  stood  in  need.  But  when  Jane  Murdstone  is 
kind  enouo-h  to  come  to  my  assistance  in  this  endeavour,  and  to 
assume,  for  my  sake,  a  condition  something  hke  a  housekeeper's,  and 
when  she  meets  with  a  base  return — ^" 

"  Oh  pray,  pray,  Edward,"  cried  my  mother,  "  don't  accuse  me  of 
beins:  imjn'ateful.  I  am  sure  I  am  not  unoa-ateful."  No  one  ever 
said  I  was,  before.  I  have  many  faults,  but  not  that.  Oh  don't, 
my  dear !" 

"  When  Jane  Murdstone  meets,  I  say,"  he  went  on,  after  waiting 
until  my  mother  was  silent,  "  with  a  base  return,  that  feeling  of  mine 
is  chilled  and  altered." 

"  Don't,  my  love,  say  that !"  implored  my  mother,  very  piteously. 
"  Oh  don't,  Edward  !  I  can't  bear  to  hear  it.  Whatever  I  am,  I 
am  affectionate.  I  know  I  am  affectionate.  I  wouldn't  say  it,  if  I 
wasn't  certain  that  I  am.  Ask  Peggotty.  I  am  sm-e  she'll  tell  you 
I'm  affectionate." 

"  There  is  no  extent  of  mere  weakness,  Clara,"  said  Mr. 
Murdstone  in  reply,  "  that  can  have  the  least  weight  with  me.  You 
lose  breath." 

"  Pray  let  us  be  friends,"  said  my  mother.  "  I  couldn't  live 
under  coldness  or  unkindness.  I  am  so  sorry.  I  have  a  great  many 
defects,  I  know,  and  it's  very  good  of  you,  Edwai'd,  with  your 
strength  of  mind,  to  endeavour  to  correct  them  for  me.  Jane,  I 
don't  object  to  anything.  I  should  be  quite  broken-hearted  if  you 
thought  of  leaving — "  My  mother  was  too  much  overcome  to 
go  on. 

"  Jane  Murdstone,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone  to  his  sister,  "  any  harsh 
words  between  us  are,  I  hope,  uncommon.  It  is  not  my  fault  that 
so  unusual  an  occurrence  has  taken  place  to-night.  I  was  betrayed 
into  it  by  another.  Nor  is  it  your  fault.  You  were  betrayed  into 
it  by  another.  But  let  us  both  try  to  forget  it.  And  as  this,"  he 
added,  after  these  magnanimous  words,  "  is  not  a  fit  scene  for  the 
boy — Da\^d,  go  to  bed  !" 

I  could  hardly  find  the  door,  through  the  tears  that  stood  in  my 
eyes.     I  was  so  sorry  for  my  mother's  distress  ;  but  I  groped  mj 


DAVID     C  0  P  P  E  R  F I E  L  D .  86 

way  out,  and  groped  my  way  up  to  my  room  in  the  dark,  without, 
even  having  the  heart  to  say  good  night  to  Peggotty,  or  to  get  a 
candle  from  her.  When  her  coming  up  to  look  for  me,  an  hour  or 
so  afterwards,  awoke  me,  she  said  that  my  mother  had  gone  to  bed 
poorly,  and  that  Mr.  and  jMjss  Murdstone  were  sitting  alone. 

Going  down  next  morning  rather  earher  than  usual,  I  paused 
outside  the  parlor  door,  on  hearing  my  mother's  voice.  She  was 
very  earnestly  and  humbly  entreating  Miss  Murdstone's  pardon, 
which  that  lady  granted,  and  a  perfect  reconcihation  took  place.  I 
never  knew  my  mother  afterwards  to  give  an  opinion  on  any  matter, 
without  first  appealing  to  Miss  Murdstone,  or  without  having  first 
ascertained,  by  some  sure  means,  what  Miss  Murdstone's  opinion 
was ;  and  I  never  saw  Miss  Murdstone,  when  out  of  temper  (she 
was  infirm  that  way),  move  her  hand  towards  her  bag  as  if  she  were 
going  to  take  out  the  keys  and  offer  to  resign  them  to  my  mother, 
without  seeing  that  my  mother  was  in  a  terrible  fi'ight. 

The  gloomy  taint  that  was  in  the  Murdstone  blood,  darkened  the 
Murdstone  rehgion,  which  was  austere  and  wrathful.  I  have 
thought,  since,  that  its  assuming  that  character  was  a  necessary  con- 
sequence of  Mr.  Murdstone's  firmness,  which  wouldn't  allow  him  to 
let  any  body  off  from  the  utmost  weight  of  the  severest  penalties  he 
could  find  any  excuse  for.  Be  this  as  it  may,  I  well  remember  the 
tremendous  visages  with  which  we  used  to  go "  to  church,  and  the 
changed  air  of  the  place.  '  Again,  the  dreaded  Sunday  comes  round, 
and  I  file  into  the  old  pew  first,  like  a  guarded  captive  brought  to  a 
condemned  service.  Again,  Miss  Murdstone,  in  a  black  velvet  gown, 
that  looks  as  if  it  had  been  made  out  of  a  pall,  followed  close  upon 
me ;  then  my  mother ;  then  her  husband.  There  is  no  Peggotty 
now,  as  in  the  old  time.  Again,  I  listen  to  Miss  Murdstone  mum- 
bling the  responses,  and  emphasising  all  the  dread  words  with  a 
cruel  rehsh.  Again,  I  see  her  dark  eyes  roll  round  the  church  when 
she  says  "  miserable  sinners,"  as  if  she  were  calling  all  the  congre 
gation  names.  Again,  I  catch  rare  glimpses  of  my  mother,  moving 
her  lips  timidly  between  the  two,  with  one  of  them  muttering  at 
each  ear  like  low  thunder.  Again,  I  wonder  with  a  sudden  fear 
whether  it  is  likely  that  our  good  old  clergyman  can  be  wrong,  and 
Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  right,  and  that  all  the  angels  in  Heaven 
can  be  destroying  angels.     Again,  if  I  move  a  finger  or  relax  a 


86  DAVID    COPPEllFIELD. 

muscle  of  ray  face,  Miss  Murdstone  pokes  me  \\itli  her  prayer- 
book,  and  makes  my  side  aclie. 

Yes,  and  again,  as  we  walk  home,  I  note  some  neighbom-s  looking 
at  my  mother,  and  at  me,  and  whispering.  Again,  as  the  three  go  on 
arm-in-arm,  and  I  hnger  behind  alone,  I  follow  some  of  those  looks, 
and  wonder  if  my  mother's  step  be  really  not  so  hght  as  I  have  seen 
it,  and  if  the  gaiety  of  her  beauty  be  really  almost  worried  away. 
Again,  I  wonder  whether  any  of  the  neighbours  call  to  mind,  as  I 
do,  how  we  used  to  walk  home  together,  she  and  I ;  and  I  wonder 
stupidly  about  that  all  the  dreary  dismal  day. 

There  had  been  some  talk  on  occasions  of  my  going  to  a  boarding- 
school.  Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  had  originated  it,  and  my  mother 
had  of  coui-se  agi'eed  with  them.  Nothing,  however,  was  concluded 
on  the  subject  yet.     In  the  meantime,  I  learnt  lessons  at  home. 

Shall  I  ever  forget  those  lessons  !  They  were  presided  over  no- 
minally by  my  mother,  but  really  by  Mr.  Murdstone  and  his  sister, 
who  were  always  present,  and  found  them  a  favourable  occasion  for 
giving  my  mother  lessons  in  that  miscalled  firmness,  which  was  the 
bane  of  both  our  lives.  I  believe  I  was  kept  at  home  for  that  pur- 
pose. I  had  been  apt  enough  to  learn,  and  wilhng  enough,  when 
my  mother  and  I  had  lived  alone  together.  I  can  faintly  remember 
learning  the  alphabet  at  her  knee.  To  this  day,  when  I  look  upon 
the  fat  black  letters  in  the  primer,  the  puzzling  novelty  of  their 
shapes,  and  the  easy  good-nature  of  0  and  Q  and  S,  seem  to  present 
themselves  again  before  me  as  they  used  to  do.  But  they  recall  no 
eeling  of  disgust  or  reluctance.  On  the  contrary,  I  seem  to  have 
walked  along  a  path  of  flowers  as  far  as  the  crocodile-book,  and  to 
have  been  cheered  by  the  gentleness  of  my  mother's  voice  and  man- 
ner all  the  way.  But  these  solemn  lessons  which  succeeded  those, 
I  remember  as  the  death-blow  at  my  peace,  and  a  grievous  daily 
drudgery  and  misery.  They  were  veiy  long,  very  numerous,  very 
hard — perfectly  unintelligible,  some  of  them,  to  me — and  I  was 
generally  as  much  bewildered  by  them  as  I  believe  my  poor  mother 
was  herself. 

Let  me  remember  how  it  used  to  be,  and  bring  one  morning  back 
again. 

I  come  into  the  second-best  parlor  after  breakfast  with  my  bookS; 
and  an  exercise  book,  and  a  slate.     My  mother  is  ready  for  me  at 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  87 

her  writing-desk,  but  not  half  so  ready  as  Mr.  Murdstone  in  liis  easy 
chair  by  the  window  (though  he  pretends  to  be  reading  a  book),  or 
as  Miss  Murdstone,  sitting  near  my  mother  stringing  steel  beads. 
The  very  sight  of  these  two  has  such  an  influence  over  me,  that  I 
begin  to  feel  the  words  I  have  been  at  infinite  paias  to  get  into  my 
head,  all  shding  away,  and  going  I  don't  know  where.  I  wonder 
where  they  do  go,  by-the-bye  ? 

I  hand  the  first  book  to  my  mother.  Perhaps  it  is  a  grammar, 
perhaps  a  liistory,  or  geography.  I  take  a  last  drowning  look  at  the 
page  as  I  give  it  into  her  hand,  and  start  off  aloud  at  a  racing  pace 
while  I  have  got  it  fi-esh.  I  trip  over  a  word.  Mr.  Murdstone  looks 
up.  I  trip  over  another  word.  Miss  Murdstone  looks  up.  I 
redden,  tumble  over  half-a-dozen  words,  and  stop.  I  think  my 
mother  would  show  me  the  book  if  she  dared,  but  she  does  not  dare, 
and  she  says  softly : 

"  Oh  Davy,  DaVy  !" 

"  Now,  Clara,"  says  Mr.  Murdstone,  "  be  firm  with  the  boy.  Don't 
say  '  Oh  Davy,  Davy !'  That's  childish.  He  knows  his  lesson,  or 
he  does  not  know  it." 

"  He  does  7iot  know  it,"  Miss  Murdstone  interposes  awfully. 

"  I  am  really  afraid  he  does  not,"  says  my  mother. 

"  Then  you  see,  Clara,"  returns  Miss  Murdstone,  "  you  should  just 
give  him  the  book  back,  and  make  him  know  it." 

"  Yes,  certainly,"  says  my  mother  ;  "  that's  what  I  intend  to  do, 
my  dear  Jane.     Now  Da\'y,  try  once  more,  and  don't  be  stupid." 

I  obey  the  first  clause  of  the  injunction  by  trying  once  more,  but 
am  not  so  successful  with  the  second,  for  I  am  very  stupid.  I  tumble 
down  before  I  get  to  the  old  place,  at  a  point  where  I  was  all  right  before, 
and  stop  to  think.  But  I  can't  think  about  the  lesson.  I  think  of 
the  number  of  yards  of  net  in  Miss  Murdstone's  cap,  or  of  the  price 
of  Mr.  Murdstone's  dressing-go>vn,  or  any  such  ridiculous  problem 
that  I  have  no  business  ^^^th,  and  don't  want  to  have  anything  at  all 
to  do  with.  Mr.  Murdstone  makes  a  movement  of  impatience 
which  I  have  been  expecting  for  a  long  time.  Miss  Murdstone  does 
the  same.  •  My  mother  glances  submissively  at  them,  shuts  the  book, 
and  lays  it  by  as  an  arrear  to  be  wjrk^d  out  when  my  other  t^sks 
are  done. 

There  is  a  pile  of  these  arrears  very  soon,  and  it  swells  like  ^ 


88   .  DAViL>     COPPEIIFIELD. 

rolling  snowball.  The  bigger  it  gets,  the  more  stupid  /  get.  Tlic 
case  is  so  hopeless,  and  I  feel  that  I  am  wallowing  in  such  a  bog  of 
nonsense,  that  I  give  up  all  idea  of  getting  out,  and  abandon  myself 
to  my  fate.  The  despairing  way  in  which  my  mother  and  I  look  at 
each  other,  as  I  blunder  on,  is  truly  melancholy.  But  the  gi-eat(^st 
effect  in  these  miserable  lessons  is  when  my  mother  (thinking  no- 
body is  obsei*vuig  her)  tries  to  give  me  the  cue  by  the  motion  of  her 
lips.  At  that  instant.  Miss  Murdstone,  who  has  been  Ijang  in  wait 
for  nothing  else  all  along,  says  in  a  deep  warning  voice : 

"Clara!" 

My  mother  starts,  coloui-s,  and  smiles  faintly.  Mr.  Murdstone 
comes  out  of  his  chair,  takes  the  book,  throws  it  at  me  or  boxes  my 
ears  with  it,  and  turns  me  out  of  the  room  by  the  shoulders. 

Even  when  the  lessons  are  done,  the  worst  is  yet  to  happen,  in  the 
shape  of  an  appalling  sum.  This  is  invented  for  me,  and  delivered 
to  me  orally  by  Mr.  Murdstone,  and  begins,  "  If  I  go  into  a  cheese- 
monger's shoj),  and  buy  five  thousand  double-Gloucester  cheeses  at 
fourpence-hal^3enny  each,  present  payment" — at  which  I  see  Miss 
Murdstone  secretly  overjoyed.  I  pore  over  these  cheeses  without 
any  result  or  enhghtenment  imtil  dinner-time ;  when,  having  made 
a  Mulatto  of  myself  by  getting  the  dirt  of  the  slate  into  the  pores 
of  my  skin,  I  have  a  shce  of  bread  to  help  me  out  with  the  cheeses, 
and  am  considered  in  disgrace  for  the  rest  of  the  evening. 

It  seems  to  me,  at  this  distance  of  time,  as  if  my  unfortunate 
studies  generally  took  this  course.  I  could  have  done  very  well  if 
I  had  been  without  the  Murdstones  ;  but  the  influence  of  the  Murd- 
stones  upon  me  was  hke  the  fascination  of  two  snakes  on  a  wretched 
young  bird.  Even  when  I  did  get  through  the  morning  with  tole- 
rable credit,  there  was  not  much  gained  but  dinner  ;  for  Miss  Murd- 
stone never  could  endure  to  see  me  untasked,  and  if  I  rashly  made 
any  show  of  being  unemployed,  called  hei  brother's  attention  to  me 
oy  saying,  "  Clara,  my  dear,  there  's  nothing  like  work — give  your 
boy  an  exercise ;"  which  caused  me  to  be  clapped  down  to  some 
new  labor  there  and  then.  As  to  any  recreation  with  other  children 
of  my  age,  I  had  very  Httle  of  that ;  for  the  gloomy  theology  of  the 
Murdstones  made  all  children  out  to  be  a  swarm  of  little  vipers 
(though  there  was  a  child  once  set  in  the  midst  of  the  Disciples), 
and  held  that  they  contaminated  one  another. 


DAVID    C  O  r  i'  E  il  i  i  Z  L  D  .  89 

Tlio  natural  result  of  this  treatment,  continued,  I  suppose,  foJ 
some  six  months,  was  to  make  me  sullen,  dull,  and  dogged.  I  waa 
not  made  the  less  so,  by  my  sense  of  being  daily  more  and  mora 
shut  out  and  ahenated  from  my  motlier.  I  beheve  I  should  have 
been  almost  stu[)ified  but  for  one  circumstance. 

It  was  this.  My  father  had  left  .a  small  collection  of  books  in  a 
little  room  up  stairs,  to  which  I  had  access  (for  it  adjoined  ray  own) 
and  which  nobody  else  in  our  house  ever  troubled.  From  that 
blessed  little  room,  Roderick  Random,  Peregrine  Pickle,  Humphrey 
Clinker,  Tom  Jones,  The  Vicar  of  Wakefield,  Don  Quixote,  Gil 
Bias,  and  Robinson  Crusoe,  came  out,  a  glorious  host,  to  keep  me 
company.  They  kept  alive  my  fancy,  and  my  hope  of  something 
beyond  that  place  and  time, — they,  and  the  Arabian  Nights,  and 
the  Tales  of  the  Genii, — and  did  me  no  hai*m  ;  for  whatever  harm 
was  in  some  of  them  was  not  there  for  me :  /  knew  nothino-  of  it. 
It  is  astonishing  to  me  now,  how  I  found  time,  in  the  midst  of  my 
pdrings  and  blunderings  over  hea\ier  themes,  to  read  those  books  as 
I  did.  It  is  curious  to  me  how  I  could  ever  have  consoled  myself 
under  my  small  troubles  (which  were  great  troubles  to  me),  by  im- 
personating my  favorite  characters  in  them — as  I  did — and  by  put- 
ting Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  into  all  the  bad  ones — which  I  did 
too.  I  have  been  Tom  Jones  (a  child's  Tom  Jones,  a  harmless 
creature)  for  a  week  together.  I  have  sustained  my  own  idea  of 
Roderick  Random  for  a  month  at  a  stretch,  I  verily  believe.  I  had 
a  greedy  relish  foi-  a  few  volumes  of  Voyages  and  Travels — I  forget 
what,  now — that  were  on  those  shelves  ;  and  for  days  and  days  T 
can  remember  to  have  gone  about  my  region  of  our  house,  armed 
with  the  centre-piece  out  of  an  old  set  of  boot-trees — the  perfect 
reahsation  of  Captain  Somebody,  of  the  Royal  British  Navy,  in  dan 
ger  of  being  beset  by  savages,  and  resolved  to  sell  his  hfe  at  a  great 
price.  The  Captain  never  lost  dignity,  from  haWng  his  ears  boxed 
with  the  Latin  Grammar.  I  did ;  but  the  Captain  was  a  Captaiu 
and  a  hero,  in  despite  of  all  the  grammars  of  all  the  languages  in 
the  world,  dead  or  alive. 

This  was  my  only  and  my  constant  comfort.  When  I  think  of 
it,  the  picture  always  rises  in  my  mind,  of  a  summer  evening,  the 
boys  at  play  in  the  churchyard,  and  I  sitting-  on  my  bed,  reading  as 
if  for  hfe.     Every  barn  in  the  neighbourhood,  everv  stone  in  tho 


90  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

cburcli,  and  eveiy  foot  of  the  churchyard,  had  some  association  of 
^ts  own,  in  my  mind,  connected  with  these  books,  and.  stood  foi 
some  locahty  made  famous  in  them.  I  have  seen  Tom  Pipes  go 
climbing  up  the  church-steeple ;  I  have  watched  Strap,  with  the 
knapsack  on  his  back,  stopping  to  rest  himself  upon  the  wicket-gate ; 
and  I  hww  that  Commodore  Trunnion  held  that  club  with  Mr. 
Pickle,  in  the  parlor  of  our  httle  village  alehouse. 

The  reader  now  understands  as  well  as  I  do,  what  I  was  when  I 
eame  to  that  point  of  my  youthful  liistory  to  which  I  am  now  com- 
ing again. 

One  morning  w^hen  I  went  into  the  parlor  with  my  books,  I  found 
my  mother  looking  anxious.  Miss  Murdstone  looking  fii-m,  and  Mr. 
Murdstone  binding  something  round  the  bottx^m  of  a  cane — a  hthe 
and  limber  cane,  which  he  left  off  binding  when  I  came  in,  and 
poised  and  switched  in  the  air. 

"I  tell  you,  Clara,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  "I  have  been  often 
flogged  myself." 

"  To  be  sure  ;  of  coui*se,"  said  Miss  Murdstone. 

"  Certainly,  my  dear  Jane,"  feiltered  my  mother,  meekly.  "  But 
^ — but  do  you  think  it  did  Edward  good  V 

"  Do  you  think  it  did  Edward  harm,  Clara  ?"  asked  Mr.  Murd- 
stone, gravely. 

"  That 's  the  point !"  said  his  sister. 

To  this  my  mother  returned  "  Certainly,  my  dear  Jane,"  and  said 
no  more. 

I  felt  apprehensive  that  I  was  personally  interested  in  this 
dialogue,  and  sought  Mr.  Murdstone's  eye  as  it  lighted  on  mine. 

"  Now,  Da\id,"  he  said — and  I  saw  that  cast  again,  as  he  said  it 
— "  you  must  be  far  more  careful  to-day  than  usual."  He  gave  the 
cane  another  poise,  and  another  switch ;  and  having  finished  his 
preparation  of  it,  laid  it  down  beside  him,  with  an  expressive  look, 
and  took  up  his  book. 

This  was  a  good  freshener  to  my  presence  of  mind,  as  a  begin- 
ning. I  felt  the  words  of  my  lesson  slipping  off,  not  one  by  one,  or 
line  by  hue,  but  by  the  entire  page.  I  tried  to  lay  hold  of  them ; 
but  they  seemed,  if  I  may  so  express  it,  to  have  put  skates  on,  and 
to  skim  away  from  me  with  a  smoothness  there  was  no  checking. 

We  began  badly,  and  went  on  worse.     I  had  come  in,  with  an 


DAVID    COPPEIIFIELD.  91 

idea  of  distinguishing  myself  rather,  conceiving  ill  at  I  was  very  well 
prepared  ;  but  it  turned  out  to  be  quite  a  mistake.  Book  after  book 
was  added  to  the  heap  of  failures,  Miss  M\u*dstone  being  firmly 
watchful  of  us  all  the  time.  And  when  we  came  at  last  to  the  five 
thousand  cheeses  (canes  he  made  it  that  day,  I  remember),  my 
mother  burst  out  crying. 

"  Clara  !"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  in  her  warning  voice. 

"  I  am  not  quite  well,  my  dear  Jane,  I  think,"  said  my  mother. 

I  saw  him  wink,  solemnly,  at  liis  sister,  as  he  rose  and  said,  taking 
up  the  cane, 

"  Why,  Jane,  we  can  hardly  expect  Clara  to  bear,  wath  perfect 
firmness,  the  worry  and  torment  that  Da\id  has  occasioned  her  to- 
day. That  would  be  stoical.  Clara  is  greatly  strengthened  and 
unproved,  but  we  can  hardly  expect  so  much  fi'om  her.  David, 
you  and  I  will  go  up  stairs,  boy." 

As  he  took  me  out  at  the  door,  my  mother  ran  towards  us.  Miss 
Murdstone  said,  "  Clara  !  are  you  a  perfect  fool  ?"  and  interfered.  I 
saw  my  mother  stop  her  ears  then,  and  I  heard  her  crying. 

He  walked  me  up  to  my  room  slowly  and  gi"avely — t  am  certain 
he  had  a  delight  in  that  formal  parade  of  executing  justice — and 
when  we  got  there,  suddenly  twisted  my  head  under  his  arm. 

"  Mr.  Murdstone  !  Sir !"  I  cried  to  him.  "  Don't !  Pray  don't 
beat  me  !  I  have  tried  to  learn,  sir,  but  I  can't  learn  while  you  and 
Miss  Murdstone  are  by.     I  can't  indeed  !" 

"  Can't  you,  indeed,  David  ?"  he  said.     "  We  '11  try  that." 

He  had  my  head  as  in  a  vice,  but  I  twined  round  him  somehow, 
and  stopped  him  for  a  moment,  entreating  him  not  to  beat  me.  It 
was  only  for  a  moment  that  I  stopped  him,  for  he  cut  me  heavily 
an  instant  afterwards,  and  in  the  same  instant  I  caught  the  hand 
with  which  he  held  me  in  my  mouth,  between  my  teeth,  and  bit  it 
through.     It  sets  my  teeth  on  edge  to  think  of  it. 

He  beat  me  then,  as  if  he  would  have  beaten  me  to  death.  Above 
all  the  noise  we  made,  I  heard  them  running  up  the  stairs,  and 
crying  out — I  heard  my  mother  crpng  out — and  Peggotty.  Tlien 
he  was  gone ;  and  tl>e  door  was  locked  outside ;  and  I  was  lying, 
fevered  and  hot,  and  torn,  and  sore,  and  raging  in  my  puny  way, 
upon  the  floor. 

How  well  I  recollect,  when  I   became  quiet,  what  an  unnatural 


92  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

stillness  seemed  to  reign  through  the  whole  house  !  Huw  Avell  1 
remember,  when  my  smart  and  passion  began  to  cool,  hov/  \\dcked  I 
began  to  feel ! 

I  sat  listening  for  a  long  while,  but  there  was  not  a  sound.  I 
crawled  up  from  the  floor,  and  saw  my  face  in  the  glass,  so  swollen, 
red,  and  ugly,  that  it  almost  frightened  me.  My  stripes  were  sore 
and  stiff',  and  made  me  cry  afi-esh,  when  I  moved ;  but  they  were 
nothing  to  the  guilt  I  felt.  It  lay  hea\ier  on  my  breast  than  if  I 
had  been  a  most  atrocious  criminal,  I  dare  say. 

It  had  begun  to  grow  dark,  and  I  had  shut  the  window  (I  had 
been  lying,  for  the  most  part,  with  my  head  upon  the  sill,  by  turns 
crying,  dozing,  and  looking  hstlessly  out),  when  the  key  wa.s  turned, 
and  Miss  Murdstone  came  in  with,  some  bread  and  meat,  and  milk. 
These  she  put  down  upon  the  table  without  a  word,  glaring  at  me 
the  while  with  exemplary  iSrmness,  and  then  retired,  locking  the 
door  after  her. 

Long  after  it  was  dark  I  sat  there,  wondering  whether  anybody 
else  would  come.  When  this  aitpeared  improbable  for  that  night,  I 
undressed,  and  went  to  bed ;  and,  there,  I  began  to  wonder  fearfully 
what  would  be  done  to  me.  Whether  it  was  a  criminal  act  tliat  I 
had  committed  ?  Whether  I  should  be  tiiken  into  custody,  and 
sent  to  prison  ?     Whether  I  was  at  all  in  danger  of  being  hanged  ? 

I  never  shall  forget  the  waking,  next  morning  ;  the  being  cheer- 
ful and  fresh  for  the  first  moment,  and  then  the '  being  weighed 
down  by  the  stale  and  dismal  oj^pression  of  remembrance.  Miss 
Murdstone  re-appeared  before  I  was  out  of  bed ;  told  me,  in  so 
many  words,  that  I  was  fi*ee  to  walk  in  the  garden  for  half  an  hour 
and  no  longer ;  and  retired,  leaving  the  door  open,  that  I  might 
avail  myself  of  that  permission. 

I  did  so,  and  did  so  every  morning  of  my  imprisonment,  which 
lasted  five  days.  If  I  could  have  seen  my  mother  alone,  I  should 
have  gone  dovm  on  my  knees  to  her  and  besought  her  forgiveness  ; 
but  I  saw  no  one.  Miss  Murdstone  excepted,  during  the  whole  time 
— except  at  evening  prayers  in  the  parlor ;  to  which  I  was  escorted 
by  Miss  Murdstone  after  every  body  else  was  placed ;  where  I  was 
stationed,  a  young  outlaw,  all  alone  by  myself  near  the  door  ;  and 
whence  I  was  solemnly  conducted  by  my  jailor,  before  any  one 
arose  from  the  devotional  postm-e.    I  only  observed  that  my  mothei 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  93 

was  as  far  off  from  me  as  slie  could  be,  and  kept  lier  face  another 
"waj  so  that  I  never  saw  it ;  and  that  Mr.  Murdstone's  hand  wan 
bound  up  in  a  large  linen  wrapper. 

The  length  of  those  five  days  I  can  convey  no  idea  of  to  any  one, 
They  occupy  the  place  of  years  in  my  remembrance.  The  way  in 
which  I  hstened  to  all  the  incidents  of  the  house  that  made  them- 
selves audible  to  me  ;  the  ringing  of  bells,  the  opening  and  shutting 
of  doors,  the  murmuring  of  voices,  the  footsteps  on  the  staii-s ;  to 
any  laughing,  whistling,  or  singing,  outside,  which  seemed  more 
dismal  than  anything  else  to  me  in  my  solitude  and  disgrace — the 
unceitain  pace  of  the  hours,  especially  at  night,  when  I  would  wake 
thinking  it  was  morning,  and  find  that  the  family  were  not  yet  gone 
to  bed,  and  that  all  the  length  of  night  had  yet  to  come — the 
depressed  dreams  and  nightmares  I  had — the  return  of  day,  noon, 
afternoon,  evening,  when  the  boys  played  in  the  churchyard,  and  I 
watched  them  fi'om  a  distance  \\itliin  the  room,  beinir  ashamed  to 
show  myself  at  the  ^^'ilidow  lest  they  should  know  I  was  a  prisoner 
— the  strange  sensation  of  never  hearing  myself  speak — the  fleeting 
intervals  of  something  hke  cheerfulness,  which  came  with  eating  and 
drinking,  and  Avent  away  A\ith  it — the  setting  in  of  rain  one  evening, 
w^th  a  fresh  smell,  and  its  coming  down  faster  and  faster  between 
me  and  the  church,  until  it  and  gathering  night  seemed  to  quench 
me  in  gloom  and  fear,  and  remoi-se — all  this  appears  to  have  gone 
roimd  and  round  for  years  instead  of  days,  it  is  so  vi\idly  and  strongly 
stamped  on  my  remembrance. 

On  the  last  night  of  my  restraint,  I  was  awakened  by  hearing  my 
own  name  spoken  in  a  whisper.  I  started  up  in  bed,  and  putting 
out  my  arms  in  the  dark,  said  : 

"  Is  that  you,  Peggotty  ?" 

There  was  no  immediate  answer,  but  presently  I  heard  my  name 
again,  in  a  tone  so  very  mysterious  and  awful,  that  I  think  I  should 
have  gone  into  a  fit,  if  it  had  not  occurred  to  me  that  it  must  have 
come  through  the  keyhole. 

I  groped  my  way  to  the  door,  and  putting  my  own  lips  to  the 
keyhole,  whispered : 

"  Is  that  you,  Peggotty,  dear  ?" 

"  Yes,  my  own  precioas  Davy,"  she  replied.  "  Be  as  soft  as  a 
mouse,  or  the  Cat  '11  hear  us." 


94  DA-VID    COPPERPIELD. 

I  understood  this  to  mean  Miss  Murdstone,  and  was  sensible  of 
the  urgency  of  the  case  ;  her  room  being  close  by. 

"  How  's  Mama,  dear  Pegg'otty  ?     Is  she  very  angry  with  me  ?" 

I  could  hear  Peggotty  crpng  softly  on  her  side  of  the  keyhole,  aa 
1  was  doing  on  mine,  before  she  answered.     "  No.     Not  very." 

"  "What  is  going  to  be  done  with  me,  Peggotty  dear  ?  Do  yoM 
know?" 

"  School.  Near  London,"  was  Peggotty 's  answer.  I  was  obliged 
to  get  her  to  repeat  it,  for  she  spoke  it  the  fii'st  time  quite  down  my 
throat,  in  consequence  of  my  having  forgotten  to  take  my  mouth 
away  from  the  keyhole  and  put  my  ear  there ;  and  though  her 
words  tickled  me  a  good  deal,  I  didn't  hear  them. 

"^Tien,  Peggotty?" 

"  To-morrow." 

"  Is  that  the  reason  why  Miss  Murdstone  took  the  clothes  out  of 
my  di'awers  ?"  which  she  had  done,  though  I  have  forgotten  to 
mention  it. 

"  Yes,"  said  Peggotty.     "  Box." 

"  Shan't  I  see  Mama  ?" 

"  Yes,"  said  Peggotty.     "  Motning." 

Then  Peggotty  fitted  her  mouth  close  to  the  keyhole,  and 
dehvered  these  words  through  it  ^vith  as  much  feeling  and  earnestness 
as  a  keyhole  has  ever  been  the  medium  of  communicating,  I  will 
venture  to  assert :  shooting  in  each  broken  httle  sentence  in  a  con- 
vulsive httle  burst  of  its  own. 

"Davy,  dear.  If  I  ain't  ben  azackly  as  intimate  with  you. 
Lately,  as  I  used  to  be.  It  ain't  becase  I  don't  love  you.  Just  as 
well  and  more,  my  pretty  poppet.  It's  becase  I  thought  it  better  for 
you.  And  for  some  one  else  besides.  Davy,  my  dai'hng,  are  you 
listening  ?     Can  you  hear  ?" 

"  Ye — ye — ye — yes,  Peggotty  !"  I  sobbed. 

"  My  ow^n  !"  said  Peggotty,  Avith  infinite  compassion.  "  What  1 
want  to  say,  is.  That  you  must  never  forget  me.  For  I'll  never 
forget  you.  And  I'll  take  as  much  care  of  your  Mama,  Davy.  As 
ever  I  took  of  you.  And  I  won't  leave  her.  The  day  may  come 
when  she'll  be  glad  to  lay  her  poor  head.  On  her  stupid,  cross  old 
Peggotty's  arm  again.     And  Til  write  to  you,  my  dear.     Tho  agh  I 


DAVID    COrPERFIELD.  95 

ain't  no  scholar.  And  I'll — I'll — "  Peggotty  fell  to  kissing  tha 
keyhole,  as  she  couldn't  kiss  me. 

"  Tliank  you,  dear  Peggotty  !"  said  I.  "  Oh,  thank  you  !  Thank 
you  !  Will  you  promise  me  one  thing,  Peggotty  ?  Will  you  write 
and  tell  Mr.  Peggotty  and  little  Em'ly  and  Mrs.  Gummidge  and 
Ham,  that  I  am  not  so  bad  as  they  might  suppose,  and  that  I  sent 
'em  all  my  love — especially  to  tittle  Em'ly?  Will  you,  if  you 
please,  Peggotty  ?" 

The  kind  soul  promised,  and  we  both  of  us  kis.-  *^d  the  keyhole 
vrith  the  greatest  affection — I  patted  it  -with  my  hand,  I  recollect,  as 
if  it  had  been  her  honest  face — and  parted.  From  that  night  there 
grew  up  in  my  breast,  a  feeling  for  Peggotty,  which  I  cannot  very 
well  define.  She  did  not  replace  my  mother  ;  no  one  could  do  that ; 
but  she  came  into  a  vacancy  in  my  heart,  which  closed  upon  her, 
and  I  felt  towards  her  something  I  have  never  felt  for  any  other 
human  being.  It  was  a  sort  of  comical  affection  too ;  and  yet  if  she 
had  died,  I  cannot  think  what  I  should  have  done,  or  how  I  should 
have  acted  out  the  tragedy  it  would  have  been  to  me. 

In  the  morning  Miss  Murdstone  appeared  as  usual,  and  told  me 
I  was  going  to  school ;  which  was  not  altogether  such  news  to  me 
as  she  supposed.  She  also  informed  me  that  when  I  was  dressed,  I 
was  to  come  down  stairs  into  the  parlor,  and  have  my  breakfast. 
There,  I  found  my  mother,  very  pale  and  with  red  eyes :  into  whose 
arms  I  ran,  and  begged  her  pardon  from  my  suffering  soul. 

"  Oh  Davy  !"  she  said.  "  That  you  could  hurt  any  one  I  love ! 
Try  to  be  better,  pray  to  be  better !  I  forgive  you ;  but  I  am  so 
grieved,  Davy,  that  you  should  have  such  bad  passions  in  your 
heart." 

Tliey  had  persuaded  her  that  I  was  a  wicked  fellow,  and  she  was 
more  sorry  for  that,  than  for  my  going  away.  I  felt  it  sorely.  I 
tned  to  eat  my  parting  breakfast,  but  my  tears  dropped  upon  my 
bread  and  butter,  and  trickled  into  my  tea.  I  saw  my  mother  look 
at  me  sometimes,  and  then  glance  at  the  watchful  Miss  Murdstone, 
and  then  look  down,  or  look  away. 

"  Master  Copperfield's  box  there !"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  wlien 
wheels  were  heard  at  the  gate. 

I  looked  for  Peggotty,  but  it  was  not  she ;  neither  she  nor  Mr 


96  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

Miirdstone  appeared.     My  former  acquaintance,  the  caiTier,  was  at 
tte  door ;  the  box  was  taken  out  to  his  cart,  and  hfted  in. 

"  Clara !"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  in  her  warning  note. 

"  Ready,  my  dear  Jane,"  returned  my  mother.  ••  Good  bye,  Davy 
You  are  going  for  your  own  good.  Good  bye,  my  child.  You  will 
come  home  in  the  holidays,  and  be  a  better  boy." 

"  Clara !"  IMiss  Mm'dstone  repeated. 

"  Certainly,  my  dear  Jane,"  repHed  my  mother,  who  was  holding 
me.     "  I  forgive  you,  my  dear  boy.     God  bless  you  !"   . 

"  Clara  !"  MiSS  Murdstone  repeated. 

Miss  Murdstone  was  good  enough  to  take  me  out  to  the  cart,  and 
to  say  on  the  way  that  she  hoped  I  would  repent,  before  I  came  to 
a  bad  end  ;  and  then  I  got  into  the  cart,  and  the  azy  horse  walked 
off  with  it. 


CHAPTER  V. 

I    AM    SENT    AWAY    FROM    HOME. 

We  might  have  gone  about  half  a  mile,  and  my  pocket- 
handkerchief  was  quite  wet  through,  when  the  carrier  stopped 
short. 

Looking  out  to  ascertain  what  for,  I  saw,  to  my  amazement, 
Peggotty  burst  from  a  hedge  and  climb  into  the  cart.  She  took  me 
in  both  her  arms,  and  squeezed  me  to  her  stays  until  the  pressure  on 
my  nose  was  extremely  painful,  though  I  never  thought  of  that  till 
afterwards  when  I  found  it  very  tender.  Not  a  single  word  did 
Peggotty  speak.  Releasing  one  of  her  arms,  she  put  it  down  in  her 
pocket  to  the  elbow,  and  brought  out  some  paper-bags  of  cakes 
which  she  crammed  into  my  pockets,  and  a  purse  which  she  put  into 
my  hand,  but  not  one  word  did  she  say.  After  another  and  a  final 
squeeze  with  both  arms,  she  got  down  from  the  cart  and  ran  away ; 
and,  my  behef  is,  and  has  always  been,  without  a  solitary  button  on 
her  gown.  I  picked  up  one,  of  several  that  were  rolHng  about,  and 
treasured  it  as  a  keepsake  for  a  long  time. 

The  carrier  looked  at  me,  as  if  to  enquire  if  she  were  coming 
back.  I  shook  my  head,  and  said  I  thought  not.  "  Then  come 
up,"  said  the  carrier  to  the  lazy  horse ;  who  came  up  accordingly. 

Having  by  this  time  cried  as  much  as  I  possibly  could,  I  began  to 
think  it  was  of  no  use  crying  any  more,  especially  as  neither  Roderick 
Random,  nor  that  Captain  in  the  Royal  British  Navy,  had  ever 
cried,  that  I  could  remember,  in  trying  situations.  The  carrier, 
beeiiiGf  me  in  this  resolution,  proposed  that  my  pocket-handkerchief 
should  be  spread  upon  the  horse's  back  to  dry.  I  thanked  him, 
and  assented  ;  and  particularly  small  it  looked,  under  those  circum- 
stances. 

I  had  now  leisure  to  examine  the  purse.  It  was  a  stiff  leather 
purse,  with  a  snap,  and  had  three  biT^lit  sliillings  in  it,  which 
Peggotty  had  evidently  polished  up  with  wliiteniug,  for  my  greater 
6 


98  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

delight.  But  its  most  precious  contents  were  two  half-crowns  folded 
together  in  a  bit  of  paper,  on  which  was  written,  in  my  mother's 
hand,  "  For  Davy.  With  my  love."  I  was  so  overcome  by  this, 
that  I  asked  the  carrier  to  be  so  good  as  reach  me  my  pocket- 
handkerchief  again  ;  but  he  said  he  thought  I  had  better  do  without 
it ;  and  I  thought  I  really  had  ;  so  I  wiped  my  eyes  on  my  sleeve 
and  stopped  myself. 

For  good,  too ;  though  in  consequence  of  my  previous  emotions, 
I  was  still  occasionally  seized  with  a  stormy  sob.  After  we  had 
jogged  on  for  some  httle  time,  I  asked  the  carrier  if  he  was  going  all 
the  way. 

"  x\ll  the  way  where  ?"  enquired  the  carrier. 

"  There,''  I  said. 

"  Where's  there  ?"  enquired  the  carrier. 

"  Near  London  ?"  I  said. 

"  Why  that  horse,"  said  the  carrier,  jerking  the  rein  to  point  him 
out,  "  would  be  deader  than  pork  afore  he  got  over  half  the 
gi'ound." 

"  Are  you  only  going  to  Yarmouth  then  ?"  I  asked. 

"  That's  about  it,"  said  the  carrier.  "  And  there  I  shall  take  you 
to  the  stage-cutch,  and  the  stagc-cutch  that'll  take  you  to — wherever 
it  is." 

As  this  was  a  great  deal  for  the  carrier  (whose  name  was  Mr. 
Barkis)  to  say — he  being,  as  I  observed  in  a  former  chapter,  of  a 
phlegmatic  temperament,  and  not  at  all  conversational — I  offered 
him  a  cake  as  a  mark  of  attention,  which  he  ate  at  one  gulp, 
exactly  hke  an  elephant,  and  which  made  no  more  impression  on  his 
big  face  than  it  would  have  done  on  an  elephant's. 

"Did  she  make  'em  now?"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  always  leaning 
foi-ward,  in  his  slouching  way,  on  the  footboard  of  the  cart  with  an 
arm  on  each  knee. 

"  Peggotty,  do  you  mean,  sir  ?" 

"  Ah  !"  said  Mr.  Barkis.     "  Her." 

"  Yes.     She  makes  all  our  pastry,  and  does  all  om*  cooking." 

"Do  she  though  ?"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

He  made  up  his  mouth  as  if  to  whistle,  but  he  didn't  whistle.  He 
sat  looking  at  the  horse's  ears,  as  if  he  saw  something  new  there ;  and 
sat  so,  for  a  considerable  time,     By-and-by,  he  said  : 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  99 

"  No  sweethearts,  I  believe  ?" 

"  Sweetmeats  did  you  say,  Mr.  Barkis  ?"  For  I  thought  li« 
wanted  something  else  to  eat,  and  had  pointedly  alluded  to  that 
description  of  refreshment. 

"  Hearts,"  said  i\Ir.  Barkis.  "  Sweet  hearts ;  no  person  walkr 
with  her !" 

"  With  Peggotty  ?" 

"  Ah !"  he  said.     "  Her." 

*'  Oh  no.     She  never  had  a  sweetheart." 

"  Didn't  she  though !"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

Again  he  made  up  his  mouth  to  whistle,  and  again  he  didn't 
whistle,  but  sat  looking  at  the  horse's  ears. 

"  So  she  makes,"  said  Mr.  Barkis  after  a  long  interval  of  reflection, 
"  all  the  apple  parsties,  and  does  all  the  cooking,  do  she  ?" 

I  rephed  that  such  was  the  fact. 

"Well.  I'll  tell  you  what,"  said  Mr.  Barkis.  "P'raps  you 
might  be  writin'  to  her  ?" 

"  I  shall  certainly  wi'ite  to  her,"  I  rejoined. 

"  Ah  !"  he  said,  slov.iy  turning  his  eyes  towards  me.  "  Well !  If 
you  was  writin'  to  her,  p'raps  you'd  recollect  to  say  that  Barkis  was 
willin' ;  would  you." 

"  That  Barkis  is  wilhng,"  I  repeated,  innocently.  "  Is  that  all 
the  messasre  ?" 

"  Ye — es,"  he  said,  considering.     "  Ye — s.     Barkis  is  wilhn'." 

"  But  you  will  be  at  Blunderstone  again  to-morrow,  Mr.  Barkis," 
I  said,  faltering  a  little  at  the  idea  of  my  being  far  away  from  it 
then,  "  and  could  give  your  own  message  so  much  l^etter." 

As  he  repudiated  this  suggestion,  however,  with  a  jerk  of  his 
head,  and  once  more  confirmed  liis  pre\ious  request  by  saying, 
with  profound  gravity,  "  Barkis  is  willin'.  That's  the  message,"  I 
readily  undertook  its  transmission.  While  I  was  waiting  for  the 
coach  in  the  Hotel  at  Yarmouth  that  very  afternoon,  I  procured  a 
sheet  of  paper  and  an  inkstand,  and  wrote  a  note  to  Peggotty  which 
ran  thus  :  "  My  dear  Peggotty.  I  have  come  here  safe.  Barkis  is 
willing.  My  love  to  Mama.  Yours  affectionately.  P.  S.  He 
Bays  he  particularly  wants  you  to  know — Barkis  is  willing^ 

When  I  had  taken  this  commission  on  myself,  prospectively,  Mr. 
Barkis  relapsed  into  perfect  silence  ;  and  I,  feehng  quite  worn  ouf 


100  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

b}'  all  tliat  had  happened  lately,  lay  down  on  a  sack  in  the  cart 
aiid  fell  a-^h^ep.  I  slept  soundly  until  we  got  to  Yarmouth  ;  wliich 
w  JUS  so  entirely  new  and  strange  to  me  in  the  inn  yard  to  which  we 
drove,  that  I  at  once  abandoned  a  latent  hope  I  had  had  of  meeting 
with  some  of  Mr.  Peggotty's  family  there,  perhaps  even  with  httle 
Eni'ly  herself. 

'ilie  coach  was  in  the  yard,  shining  very  much  all  over,  but 
witiiout  any  horses  to  it  as  yet ;  and  it  looked  in  that  state  as  if 
nothing  was  more  unlikely  than  its  ever  gohig  to  London.  I  w?,s 
thinking  this,  and  wondering  what  would  ultimately  become  of  my 
box,  which  Mr.  Barkis  had  put  down  on  the  yard-pavement  by  the 
pole  (he  having  driven  up  the  yard  to  turn  his  cart),  and  also  what 
would  ultimately  become  of  me,  when  a  lady  looked  out  of  a  bow- 
window  where  some  fowls  and  joints  of  meat  were  hanging  up,  and 
said : 

"  Is  that  the  httle  gentleman  from  Blunderstone  ?" 

"  Yes,  ma'am,"  I  said. 

"  What  name  ?"  enquired  the  lady. 

"  Copperfield,  ma'am,"  I  said. 

"  That  won't  do,"  returned  the  lady.  "  JSTobody's  dinner  is  paid 
for  here,  in  that  name." 

"  Is  it  Murdstone,  ma'am  ?"  I  said. 

"  If  you're  Master  Murdstone,"  said  the  lady,  "  why  do  you  go 
and  give  another  name  first  ?" 

I  explained  to  the  lady  how  it  was,  who  then  rang  a  bell,  and 
called  out,  "  Wilham !  show  the  coffee-room !"  Upon  which  a 
waiter  came  running  out  of  a  kitchen  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
yard  to  show  it,  and  seemed  a  good  deal  sm-prised  when  he  found 
he  was  only  to  show  it  to  me. 

It  was  a  large  long  room  with  some  large  maps  in  it.  I  doubt  if 
I  could  have  felt  much  stranger  if  the  maps  had  been  real  foreign 
countries,  and  I  cast  away  in  the  middle  of  them.  I  felt  it  was 
tiiking  a  liberty  to  sit  down,  with  my  cap  in  my  hand,  on  the 
corner  of  the  chair  nearest  the  door  ;  and  when  the  waiter  laid  a 
cloth  on  purpose  for  me,  and  put  a  set  Df  castore  on  it,  I  think  I 
must  have  turned  red  all  over  with  modesty.  . 

He  brought  me  some  chops,  and  vegetables,  and  took  the  covers 
off  in  such  a  bouncing  manner  that  I  was  afraid  I  must  have  given 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  lOl 

him  some  offence.  But  lie  greatly  relieved  my  mind  by  putting  a 
chair  for  me  at  the  table,  and  saying,  very  aflkbly,  "  Now  six-foot ! 
come  on !" 

I  thanked  him,  and  took  my  seat  at  the  board  ;  but  found  it  ex- 
tremely difficult  to  handle  my  knife  and  fork  \vith  anything  like 
dexterity,  or  to  avoid  splashing  myself  with  the  gravy,  while  he  wjis 
standing  opposite,  staring  so  hard,  and  making  me  blush  in  the 
most  di'eadful  manner  every  time  I  caught  his  eye.  After  watching 
me  into  the  second  chop,  he  said  : 

"  There's  half  a  pint  of  ale  for  you.     Will  you  have  it  now  ?" 

I  thanked  him,  and  said  Yes.  Upon  which  he  poured  it  out  of 
a  jug  into  a  large  tumbler,  and  held  it  up  against  the  hght,  and 
made  it  look  beautiful. 

"  My  eye  !"  he  said.     "  It  seems  a  good  deal,  don't  it  ?" 

"  It  does  seem  a  good  deal,"  I  answered  with  a  smile.  For  it 
was  quite  dehghtful  to  me,  to  find  him  so  pleasant.  He  was  a 
twinkling-eyed,  pimple-faced  man,  vnih  his  hair  standing  upright 
all  over  his  head  ;  and  as  he  stood  with  one  arm  a-kimbo,  holding 
up  the  glass  to  the  light  with  the  other  hand,  he  looked  quite 
friendly. 

"  There  was  a  gentleman  here,  yesterday,"  he  said,  "  a  stout  gen- 
tleman, by  the  name  of  Topsawyer — perhaps  you  know  him !" 

"No,"  I  said,  "  I  don't  think—" 

"  In  breeches  and  gaiters,  broad-bnmmed  hat,  grey  coat,  speckled 
choaker,"  said  the  waiter. 

"  No,"  I  said  bashfully,  "  I  haven't  the  pleasure — " 

"  He  came  in  lere,"  said  the  waiter,  looking  at  the  hght  tlirough 
the  tumbler,  "  ordered  a  glass  of  this  ale — would  order  it — I  told 
him  not — drank  it,  and  fell  dead.  It  was  too  old  for  him.  It 
oughtn't  to  be  drawn ;  that's  the  fact." 

I  was  very  much  shocked  to  hear  of  this  melancholy  accident,  and 
said  I  thought  I  had  better  have  some  water. 

"  Why  you  see,"  said  the  waiter,  still  looking  at  the  light  through 
the  tumbler,  with  one  of  his  eyes  shut  up,  "  our  people  don't  like 
tilings  being  ordered  and  left.  It  otfends  'em.  But  /'ll  drink  it,  if 
you  like.  Fin  used  to  it,  and  use  is  everything.  I  don't  lliink  it  '11 
hurt  me,  if  I  tln-ow  my  head  back,  and  take  it  otf  quick.     Sliall  I. 

I  rej^hed  that  he  would   much   oblige   me   by  drinking  it,  if  he 


102  DAVID    COrPERFIELD. 

thought  he  could  do  it  safely,  but  by  no  means  ot.ierwise. 
When  he  did  throw  his  head  back,  and  take  ir'off  quick,  I  had  a 
horrible  fear,  I  confess,  of  seeing  him  meet  the  fate  of  the  lamented 
Mr.  Topsawyer,  and  fall  lifeless  on  the  carpet.  But  it  didn't  hurt 
him.     On  the  contrary,  I  thought  he  seemed  the  fi-esher  for  it. 

"  \Miat  have  we  got  here  ?"  he  said,  putting  a  fork  into  my  dish. 
*' Not  chops?" 

"  Chops,"  I  said. 

"  Lord  bless  my  soul !"  he  exclaimed,  "  I  didn't  know  they  were 
chops.  Why,  a  chop's  the  very  thing  to  take  off  the  bad  effects  of 
that  beer !     Ain't  it  lucky  ?" 

So  he  took  a  chop  by  the  bone  in  one  hand,  and  a  potatoe  in  the 
other,  and  ate  away  with  a  very  good  appetite,  to  my  extreme 
Batisfaction.  He  afterwards  took  another  chop,  and  another  potatoe ; 
and  after  that,  another  chop  and  another  potatoe.  W^hen  we  had 
done,  he  brought  me  a  pudding,  and  having  set  it  before  me, 
seemed  to  ruminate,  and  to  become  absent  in  his  mind  for  some 
moments. 

"  How's  the  pie  ?"  he  said,  rousing  himself. 

"  It's  a  pudding,"  I  made  answer. 

"  Pudding  ?"  he  exclaimed.  "  WTiy,  bless  me,  so  it  is  !  What !" 
looking  at  it  nearer.  "  You  don't  mean  to  say  it's  a  batter 
pudding  I" 

"  Yes,  it  is  indeed." 

"  Why,  a  batter  pudding,"  he  said,  taking  up  a  table-spoon,  "  is 
my  favorite  pudding !  Ain't  that  lucky  ?  Come  on,  httle  'un,  and 
let's  see  who'll  get  most." 

The  waiter  certainly  got  most.  He  entreated  me  more  than  once 
to  come  in  and  win,  but  what  with  his  table-spoon  to  my  tea-spoon, 
his  dispatch  to  my  dispatch,  and  his  aj^petite  to  my  appetite,  I  was 
left  far  behind  at  the  first  mouthful,  and  had  no  chance  with  him. 
I  never  saw  any  one  enjoy  a  pudding  so  much,  I  think ;  and  he 
laughed,  when  it  was  all  gone,  as  if  his  enjoyment  of  it  lasted  still. 

Finding  him  so  very  fi-iendly  and  companionable,  it  was  then  that 
I  asked  for  the  pen  and  ink  and  paper,  to  write  to  Peggotty.  He 
not  only  brought  it  immediately,  1)ut  was  good  enough  to  look  over 
me  while  I  wrote  the  letter.  When  J  had  fiaished  it,  he  asked  ma 
where  T  was  going  to  school. 


My  friendly  "Waiter  and  I. 


OF  THE 
UNIVERSITY  OF  ILLINOIS 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  103 

I  said,  "  near  London,"  which  was  all  I  knew. 

"Oh,  my  eye  !"  he  said,  looking  very  low-spirited,  "  I  am  sorrv 
for  that." 

"Why?"  I  asked  him. 

"  Oh  Lord  !"  he  said,  shaking  his  head,  "  that's  the  school  whera 
they  broke  the  boy's  ribs — two  ribs — a  little  boy  he  was.  I  should 
say  he  was — ^let  me  see — how  old  are  you,  about  ?" 

I  told  him  between  eight  and  nine — almost  nine. 

"  That's  just  his  age,"  he  said.  "  He  was  eight  years  and  six 
months  old  w  hen  they  broke  his  first  rib ;  eight  years  and  eight 
months  old  when  they  broke  his  second,  and  did  for  him." 

I  could  not  disguise  from  myself,  or  from  the  w^aiter,  that  this  was 
an  uncomfortable  coincidence,  and  inquired  how  it  was  done.  His 
answer  was  not  cheering  to  my  spirits,  for  it  consisted  of  two  dismal 
words,  "  With  whopping." 

The  blowing  of  the  coach-horn  in  the  yard  was  a  seasonable 
diversion,  which  made  me  get  up  and  hesitatingly  enquire,  in  the 
mingled  pride  and  difi&dence  of  having  a  purse  (which  I  took  out  of 
my  pocket),  if  there  were  anything  to  pay. 

"  There's  a  sheet  of  letter-paper,"  he  returned.  "  Did  you  evei 
buy  a  sheet  of  letter-paper  ?" 

I  could  not  remember  that  I  ever  had. 

"  It's  dear,"  he  said,  "  on  account  of  the  duty.  Threepenoo. 
That's  the  way  we're  taxed  in  this  countiy.  There's  nothing  else^ 
except  the  waiter.     Never  mind  the  ink.     /  lose  by  that." 

"  What  should  you — what  should  I — how  much  ought  I  to— 
what  would  it  be  right  to  pay  the  waiter,  if  you  please  ?"  I  stam 
mored,  blushing. 

"  If  I  hadn't  a  family,  and  that  family  hadn't  the  cowpox,"  said 
the  waiter,  "  I  wouldn't  take  a  sixpence.  If  I  didn't  support  a  aged 
pairint,  and  a  lovely  sister," — here  the  waiter  was  greatly  aaritatprl-  — 
"  I  wouldn't  take  a  farthing.  If  I  had  a  good  place,  and  was  treated 
well  here,  I  should  beg  acceptance  of  a  trifle,  instead  of  taking  of  ii. 
But  I  hve  on  broken  wittles — and  I  sleep  on  the  coals" — hero  the 
waiter  burst  into  tears. 

I  was  very  much  concerned  for  his  misfortunes,  and  felt  that  any 
recognitioii  short  of  ninepence  would  be  mere  brut^ality  and  hai-diioss 
of  heart.     Tlierefore  I  gave  him  one  of  my  three  bright  shillings 


104  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

which  lie  received  with  much  humiUty  and  veneration,  and  spun  up 
with  his  thumb,  directly  afterwards,  to  try  the  goodness  of. 

It  was  a  httle  disconcerting  to  me,  to  find,  when  I  was  being 
helped  up  behind  the  coach,  that  I  was  supposed  to  have  eaten  all 
the  dinner  without  any  assistance.  I  discovered  this,  from  over- 
hearing the  lady  in  the  bow-window  say  to  the  guard  :  "  Take  care 
of  that  child,  George,  or  he'll  burst !"  and  observing  that  the  women- 
Bervants  who  were  about  the  place  came  out  to  look  and  giggle  at 
me  as  a  young  phenomenon.  My  unfortunate  friend  the  waiter,  wlio 
had  quite  recovered  his  spirits,  did  not  appear  to  be  disturbed  by 
this,  but  joined  in  the  general  admiration  without  being  at  all  con- 
fused. If  I  had  any  doubt  of  him,  I  suppose  this  half-awakened  it ; 
but  I  am  inchned  to  believe  that  with  the  simple  confidence  of  a 
child,  and  the  natural  reliance  of  a  child  upon  superior  years 
(qualities  I  am  very  sorry  any  children  should  prematurely  change 
for  worldly  wisdom),  I  had  no  serious  mistrust  of  him  on  the  whole, 
even  then. 

I  felt  it  rather  hard,  I  must  own,  to  be  made,  without  deserving 
it,  the  subject  of  jokes  between  the  coachman  and  guard  as  to  the 
coach  drawing  heavy  behind,  on  account  of  my  sitting  there,  and  as 
to  the  greater  expediency  of  my  travelling  by  waggon.  The  story 
of  my  supposed  appetite  getting  wind  among  the  outside  passengers, 
they  were  merry  upon  it  likewise ;  and  asked  me  whether  I  was 
going  to  be  paid  for,  at  school,  as  two  brothers  or  three,  and  whether 
I  was  contracted  for,  or  went  upon  the  regular  terms  ;  with  other 
pleasant  questions.  But  the  worst  of  it  was,  that  I  knew  I  should 
be  ashamed  to  eat  anything,  when  an  opportunity  ofifered,  and  that, 
after  a  rather  hght  dinner,  I  should  remain  hungry  all  night — for  I 
had  left  my  cakes  behind,  at  the  Hotel,  in  my  hurry.  My  appre- 
hensions were  realised.  When  we  stopped  for  supper  I  couldn't 
niuster  courage  to  take  any,  though  I  should  have  liked  very  much, 
but  sat  by  the  fire  and  said  I  didn't  want  anything  This  did  not 
save  me  from  more  jokes,  either ;  for  a  husky-voiced  gentleman  with 
a  rough  face,  who  had  been  eating  out  of  a  sandwich-box  nearly 
all  the  way,  except  when  he  had  been  drinking  out  of  a  bottle,  said 
I  was  like  a  Boa  Constrictor  who  took  enouo;h  at  one  meal  to  last 
him  a  long  time  ;  after  which,  he  actually  brought  a  rash  out  upon 
himself  with  boiled  beef. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  105 

We  had  started  fiom  Yannouth  at  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon, 
and  we  were  due  in  London  about  eisjht  next  mornin<y.  It  was 
Midsummer  weather,  and  the  evening  was  ver^  pleasant.  When 
we  passed  through  a  village,  I  pictured  to  myself  what  the  insides 
of  the  houses  were  hke,  and  what  the  inhabitants  were  about ;  and 
when  boys  came  running  after  us,  and  got  up  behind,  and  swung 
there  for  a  little  way,  I  wondered  whether  their  fathers  were  alive, 
and  whether  they  were  happy  at  home.  I  had  plenty  to  think  of, 
therefore,  besides  my  mind  rimning  continually  on  the  kind  of  place 
I  was  going  to — which  w.'is  an  awful  speculation.  Sometimes,  I 
remember,  I  resig-ned  myself  to  thoughts  of  home  and  Peggotty ; 
and  to  endeavouring,  in  a  confused  bhnd  way,  to  recall  how  I  had 
felt,  and  what  sort  of  boy  I  used  to  be,  before  I  bit  Mr.  Murdstone : 
which  I  couldn't  satisfy  myself  about  by  any  means,  I  seemed  to 
have  bitten  him  in  such  a  remote  antiquity. 

The  night  was  not  so  pleasant  as  the  evening,  for  it  got  chilly  ; 
and  being  put  between  two  gentlemen  (the  rough-faced  one  and 
another)  to  prevent  my  tumbling  off  the  coach,  I  was  nearly  smo- 
thered by  their  falhng  asleep,  and  completely  blocking  me  up.  They 
squeezed  me  so  hard  sometimes,  that  I  could  not  help  crying  ouu 
"  Oh  !  if  you  please  !" — which  they  didn't  like  at  all,  because  it 
woke  them.  Opposite  me  was  an  elderly  lady  in  a  great  fur  cloak, 
who  looked  in  the  dark  mv>re  hke  a  haystack  than  a  lady,  she  was 
wrapped  up  to  such  a  degree.  ITiis  lady  had  a  basket  with  her,  and 
she  hadn't  known  what  to  do  with  it,  for  a  long  time,  until  she 
found  that  on  account  of  my  legs  bemg  short,  it  could  go  underneath 
me.  It  cramped  and  hurt  me  so,  that  it  made  me  perfectly  misera- 
ble ;  but  if  I  moved  in  the  least,  and  made  a  glass  that  was  in  the 
basket  rattle  against  something  else  (as  it  was  sure  to  do),  she  gave 
me  the  cruellest  poke  with  her  foot,  and  said,  "  Come,  don't  you 
fidget.     Your  bones  are  young  enough,  /'ra  sure !" 

At  last  the  sun  rose,  and  then  my  companions  seemed  to  sleep 
easier.  The  difficulties  under  which  they  had  laboured  all  night, 
and  which  had  found  utterance  in  the  most  terrific  gasps  and  snorts, 
are  not  to.  be  conceived.  As  the  sun  got  higher,  their  sleep  became 
lighter,  and  so  they  gTadually  one  by  one  awoke.  I  recollect  bemg 
very  much  surprised  by  the  feint  everybody  made,  then,  of  not  hav- 
ing been  to  sleep  at  all,  and  by  the  uncommon  indignation  with 


lOG  DAVID     CO  PPL  II  FIELD. 

which  every  one  repelled  the  charge.  I  labor  under  the  same  kind 
of  astonishment  to  this  day,  ha\ing  invariably  observed  that  of  all 
human  weaknesses,  the  one  to  which  our  common  nature  is  the  least 
disposed  to  confess  (I  cannot  imagine  why)  is  the  weakness  of  hav- 
ing gone  to  sleep  in  a  coach. 

What  an  amazing  place  London  was  to  me  when  I  saw  it  in  the 
distance,  and  how  I  beheved  all  the  adventures  of  all  my  favorite 
heroes  to  be  constantly  enacting  and  re-enacting  there,  and  how  I 
vaguely  made  it  out  in  my  own  mind  to  be  fuller  of  wonders  and 
wickedness  than  all  the  cities  of  the  earth,  I  need  not  stop  here  to 
relate.  We  app-oached  it  by  degrees,  and  got,  in  due  time,  to  the 
inn  in  the  Whitechapel  district,  for  which  we  were  bound.  I  forget 
whether  it  was  the  Blue  Bull,  or  the  Blue  Boar ;  but  I  know  it  was 
the  Blue  Something,  and  that  its  likeness  was  painted  up  on  the 
back  of  the  coach. 

The  guard's  eye  lighted  on  me  as  he  was  getting  down,  and  he 
said  at  the  booking-office  door : 

"  Is  there  anybody  here  for  a  yoongster  booked  in  the  name  of 
Murdstone,  fi'om  Bloonderstone,  Sooffolk,  to  be  left  'till  called  for  ?" 

Nobody  answered. 

"  Try  Copperfield,  if  you  please,  sir,"  said  I,  looking  helplessly 
dow^. 

"  Is  there  anybody  here  for  a  yoongster,  booked  in  the  name  of 
Mm-dstone,  from  Bloonderstone,  Sooffolk,  but  owning  to  the  name 
of  Copperfield,  to  be  left  'till  called  for  ?"  said  the  guard.  "  Come  ! 
Js  there  anybody  ?" 

No.  There  was  nobody.  I  looked  anxiously  around ;  but  the 
enquiry  made  no  impression  on  any  of  the  bystanders,  if  L  except  a 
man  in  gaiters,  with  one  eye,  who  suggested  that  they  had  better 
put  a  brass  collar  round  my  neck,  and  tie  me  up  in  the  stable. 

A  ladder  was  brought,  and  I  got  down  after  the  lady,  who  was 
like  a  haystack  :  not  daring  to  stii',  until  her  basket  was  removed. 
The  coach  was  clear  of  passengers  by  that  time,  the  luggage  was 
very  soon  cleared  out,  the  horses  had  been  taken  out  before  the  lug- 
gage, and  now  the  coach  itself  was  wheeled  and  backed  off  by  some 
hostlers,  out  of  the  way.  Still,  nobody  appeared,  to  claim  the  dusty 
youngster  from  Blunderstone,  Suffolk. 

More  sohtary  than  Robinson   Crusoe,  who  had  nobody  to  look 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  107 

ftt  him  and  see  that  l?.  was  solitaiy,  I  went  into  the  booking-office, 
and,  by  invitation  of  the  clerk  on  duty,  passed  behir  d  the  counter, 
and  sat  down  on  the  scale  at  which  they  weighed  the  luggage. 
Here,  as  I  sat  looking  at  the  parcels,  packages,  and  books,  and 
mhaling  the  smell  of  stables  (ever  since  associated  with  that  morn- 
ing), a  procession  of  most  tremendous  considerations  began  to  march 
through  my  mind.  Supposing  nobody  should  ever  fetch  me,  how 
long  would  they  consent  to  keep  me  there  ?  Would  they  keep  me 
long  enough  to  spend  seven  shillings  ?  Should  I  sleep  at  night  in 
one  of  those  wooden  binns  with  the  other  luo-o-ao-e,  and  wash 
myself  at  the  pump  in  the  yard  in  the  morning ;  or  should  I  be 
turned  out  every  night,  and  expected  to  come  again  to  be  left  'till 
called  for,  when  the  office  opened  next  day  ?  Supposing  there  was 
no  mistake  in  the  case,  and  Mr.  Murdstone  had  de-vdsed  this  plan  to 
get  rid  of  me,  what  should  I  do  ?  If  they  allowed  me  to  remain 
there  until  my  seven  shillings  were  spent,  I  couldn't  hope  to  remain 
there  when  I  began  to  starve.  That  would  obviously  be  inconve- 
nient and  unpleasant  to  the  customer,  besides  entaihng  on  the  Blue 
Whatever-it-was,  the  risk  of  funeral  expenses.  If  I  started  off  at 
once,  and  tried  to  walk  back  home,  how  could  I  ever  find  my  way, 
how  could  I  ever  hope  to  walk  so  far,  how  could  I  make  sure  of  any 
one  but  Peggotty,  even  if  I  got  back  ?  If  I  found  out  the  nearest  pro- 
per authorities,  and  offered  myself  to  go  for  a  soldier,  or  a  sailor,  I 
was  such  a  httle  fellow  that  it  was  most  hkely  they  wouldn't  take 
me  in.  These  thoughts,  and  a  hundred  other  such  thoughts,  turned 
me  burning  hot,  and  made  me  giddy  with  apprehension  and  dismay. 
I  was  in  the  height  of  my  fever  when  a  man  entered  and  whispered 
to  the  clerk,  who  presently  slanted  me  off  the  scale,  and  pushed  me 
over  to  him,  as  if  I  were  weighed,  bought,  dehvered,  and  paid  for. 

As  I  went  out  of  the  office,  hand  ir  hand  with  this  new  acquaint- 
ance, I  stole  a  look  at  him.  He  was  a  gaunt,  sallow  young  man, 
with  hollow  cheeks,  and  a  chin  almost  as  black  as  Mr.  Murdstone's  ; 
but  there  the  hkeness  ended,  for  his  whiskers  were  shaved  off,  and 
his  hair,  instead  of  being  glossy,  was  rusty  and  dry.  He  was 
dressed  in  a  suit  of  black  clothes  which  were  rather  rusty  and  dry 
too,  and  rather  short  in  the  sleeves  and  legs  ;  and  he  had  a  white 
\ieck-kerchief  on  that  was  not  over-clean.     I  did  not,  and  do  not, 


108  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

suppose  that  this  neck-kercliief  was  all  the  HneD  he  wore,  bat  it  wai 
all  he  showed  or  gave  any  hint  of. 

''  You  're  the  new  boy  ?"  he  said. 

"  Yes,  sir,"  I  said.     I  supposed  I  was.     I  didn't  know. 

"  I'm  one  of  the  masters  at  Salem  House,"  he  said. 

I  made  him  a  bow  and  felt  very  much  overawed.  I  was  so 
ashamed  to  allude  to  a  comr  on-place  thing  like  my  box,  to  a 
scliolar  and  a  master  at  Salem  J  ouse,  that  we  had  gone  some  little 
di'^tance  from  the  yard  before  had  the  hardihood  to  mention  it. 
^\'e  turned  back,  on  my  humbh  insinuating  that  it  might  be  useful 
to  me  hereafter ;  and  he  told  the  clerk  that  the  carrier  had  instruo 
tions  to  call  for  it  at  noon. 

"  If  you  please,  sir,''  I  said,  when  we  had  accomphshed  about  the 
same  distance  as  before,  ''is  it  far ?" 

"  It 's  down  by  Blackheath,"  he  said. 

"  Is  that  far,  sir  ?"  I  diffidently  asked. 

"  It 's  a  good  step,"  he  said.  "  We  shall  go  by  the  stage-coach. 
It 's  about  six  miles." 

I  was  so  faint  and  tired,  that  the  idea  of  holding  out  for  six 
miles  more,  was  too  much  for  me.  I  took  heart  to  tell  him  that  I 
had  had  nothing  all  night,  and  that  if  he  would  allow  me  to  buy 
something  to  eat,  I  should  be  very  much  obliged  t^^  him.  He 
appeared  surprised  at  this — I  see  him  stop  and  look  at  me  now — 
and  after  considering  for  a  few  moments,  said  he  wanted  to  call  on 
an  old  person  who  lived  not  ftir  oflF,  and  that  the  best  way  would 
be  for  me  to  buy  some  bread,  or  whatever  I  hked  best  that  was 
wholesome,  and  make  my  breakfast  at  her  house,  where  we  could 
get  some  milk. 

Accordingly  we  looked  in  at  a  baker's  window,  and  after  I  had 
made  a  series  of  proposals  to  buy  everything  that  was  bilious  in  the 
shop,  and  he  had  rejected  them  one  by  one,  we  decided  in  favour  of 
a  nice  httle  loaf  of  brown  bread,  which  cost  me  threepence.  Then, 
at  a  grocer's  shop,  we  bought  an  Qg'g  and  a  slice  of  streaky  bacon  ; 
which  stiH  left  what  I  thought  a  good  deal  of  change,  out  of  ths 
second  of  the  bright  shiUings,  and  made  me  consider  London  a  very 
cheap  place.  These  pro^^sions  laid  in,  we  went  on  through  a  great 
noise  and  uproar  that  confused  my  weary  head  beyond  descriptioTi, 
and  over  a  bridge  which,  no  doubt,  was  London  Bridge  (indeed  I 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  109 

think  he  told  me  so,  but  I  '.vas  lialf  asleep),  until  "we  came  to  the 
poor  pei-son's  hoase,  which  wjis  a  part  of  some  alms-houses,  as  1 
knew  by  their  look,  and  by  an  in^cnption  on  a  stone  over  the  gate, 
which  said  they  were  estabhshed  for  twenty-five  poor  women. 

The  Master  at  Salem  House  lifted  the  latch  of  one  of  a  number 
>f  httle  black  doors  that  were  all  aUke,  and  bad  each  a  little 
liamond-paned  -window  on  one  side,  and  another  little  diamond' 
paned  window  above ;  and  we  went  into  the  httle  house  of 
one  of  these  poor  old  women,  who  was  blowing  a  fire  to  make  a 
little  saucepan  boil.  On  seeing  the  master  enter,  the  old  woman 
stopped  with  the  bellows  on  her  knee,  and  said  something  that  I 
thought  sounded  hke  "  My  Charley !"  but  on  seeing  me  come  in  too,  she 
got  up,  and  rubbing  her  hands  made  a  confused  sort  of  half  curtsey. 

"  Can  you  cook  this  young  gentleman's  breakfast  for  him,  if  you 
please  ?"  said  the  Master  at  Salem  House. 

"  Can  I  ?"  said  the  old  woman.     "  Yes  can  I,  sure  !" 

"  How 's  Mrs.  Fibbitson  to-day  ?"  said  the  Master,  looking  at 
another  old  woman  in  a  large  chair  by  the  fii'e,  who  was  such  a 
bundle  of  clothes  that  I  feel  gi'ateftd  to  this  hour  for  not  having  sat 
upon  her  by  mistake. 

"  Ah,  she  's  poorly,"  said  the  first  old  woman.  "  It 's  one  of  her 
bad  days.  If  the  fire  was  to  go  out,  through  any  accident,  I  verily 
beheve  she  'd  go  out  too,  and  never  come  to  hfe  again." 

As  they  looked  at  her,  I  looked  at  her  also.  Although  it  was  a 
warm  day,  she  seemed  to  tliink  of  nothing  but  the  fire.  I  fancied 
she  was  jealous  even  of  the  saucepan  on  it ;  and  I  have  reason  to 
know  that  she  took  its  impressment  into  the  service  of  boiling  my  egg 
and  broiling  my  bacon,  in  dudgeon  ;  for  I  saw  her,  with  my  own  dis- 
comfited eyes,  shake  her  fist  at  me  once,  when  those  culinary 
operations  were  going  on,  and  no  one  else  was  looking.  The  sun 
streamed  in  at  the  httle  window,  but  she  sat  with  her  own  back  and 
the  back  of  the  large  chair  towards  it,  screening  the  fire  as  if  she 
were  sedulously  keeping  it  w^arm,  instead  of  it  keeping  her  wai-m, 
and  watching  it  in  a  most  distrustfid  manner.  The  completion  of 
the  preparations  for  my  breakfast,  by  reheving  the  fire,  gave  her 
Buch  extreme  joy  that  she  laughed  aloud — and  a  very  unmelodious 
laugh  she  had,  1  must  say. 

I  sat  down  to  my  bro^vn  loaf  my  eg^;,  and  my  rasher  of  ^acon 


110  DAVID    COPPEKFIELD. 

vrith  a  bason  of  milk  besides,  and  i  oade  a  most  delicious  meal. 
Wliile  I  was  yet  in  tlie  full  enjoyment  of  it,,  the  old  woman  of  the 
house  said  to  the  Master  :  ; 

"  Have  you  got  your  flute  with  you  ?" 

"Yes,"  he  returned. 

'^  Have  a  blow  at  it,"  said  the  old  woman,  coaxingly.     "  Do  !" 

The  Master,  upon  this,  put  his  hand  underneath  the  skirts  of  his 
coat,  and  brought  out  his  flute  in  three  pieces,  which  he  screwed 
together,  and  began  immechat^ly  to  play.  My  impression  is,  after 
many  years  of  consideration,  that  there  never  can  have  been  anybody 
in  the  world  who  played  worse.  He  made  the  most  dismal  sounds 
I  have  ever  heard  produced  by  any  means,  natural  or  artificial.  I 
don't  know  what  thy  tunes  were — if  there  were  such  tilings  in  the 
performance  at  all,  which  I  doubt — but  the  influence  of  the  strain 
upon  me  was,  fii'st,  to  make  me  think  of  all  my  sorrows  until  I  could 
hardly  keep  my  tears  back ;  then  to  take  away  my  appetite  ;  and 
lastly  to  make  me  so  sleepy  that  I  couldn't  keep  my  eyes  open. 
They  begin  to  close  again,  and  I  begin  to  nod,  as  the  recollection 
rises  fresh  upon  me.  Once  more  the  little  room  with  its  open 
corner  cupboard,  and  its  square-backed  chairs,  and  its  angular 
little  stahcase  leading  to  the  room  above,  and  its  three  peacock's 
feathers  displayed  over  the  mantelpiece — I  remember  wondering 
when  I  fii-st  went  in,  what  that  peacock  would  have  thought  if  he 
had  known  what  his  finery  was  doomed  to  come  to — fades  from 
before  me,  and  I  nod,  and  sleep.  The  flute  becomes  inaudible,  the 
wheels  of  the  coach  are  heard  instead,  and  Lam  on  my  journey. 
The  coach  jolts,  I  wake  ^vith  a  start,  and  the  flute  has  come  back 
again,  and  the  Master  at  Salem  House  is  sitting  with  his  leg's 
crossed,  playing  it  dolefully,  while  the  old  woman  of  the  house 
looks  on  dehghted.  She  fades  in  her  tuni,  and  he  fades,  and  all 
fades,  and  there  is  no  flute,  no  Master,  no  Salem  House,  no  Dand 
Coppei^field,  no  anything  but  heavy  sleep. 

I  dreamed,  I  thought,  that  once  while  he  was  blowing  into  this 
dismal  flute,  the  old  woman  of  the  house,  who  had  gone  nearer  and 
nearer  to  him  in  her  ecstatic  admiration,  leaned  over  the  back  of  his 
chair  and  gave  him  an  affectionate  squeeze  round  the  neck,  which 
stopped  his  playing  for  a  moment.  I  was  in  the  middle  state 
between  sleepmg  and  waking,  eithor  then  or  immediately  afterwards, 


..:^':;«[:^^S^^S 


ily  unisieal  Breakfast 


Vi\«Mt«5*^ 


^,  of  la''*^'*^ 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  Ill 

for,  as  he  resumed  — it  was  a  real  fact  that  he  i  ad  stopped  playing 
— I  saw  and  heaid  the  same  old  woman  ask  Mrs.  Fibbitson,  if  it 
wasn't  delicious  (ini.'auing  t!ie  flute),  to  which  Mrs.  Fibbitson  replied, 
"  Ay,  ay !  Yes !"  and  nodded  at  the  fire  :  to  which,  I  am  persuaded, 
she  gave  the  credit  of  the  whole  performance. 

When  I  seemed  to  have  been  dozing  a  long  while,  the  Master  at 
Salem  House  unscrewed  his  flute  into  the  three  pieces,  put  them  up  as 
before,  and  took  me  away.  We  found  the  coach  very  near  at  hand, 
and  got  upon  the  roof;  but  I  was  so  dead  sleepy,  that  when  we 
stopped  on  the  road  to  take  up  somebody  else,  they  put  me  inside 
where  there  were  no  passengere,  and  where  I  slept  profoundly,  until 
I  found  the  coach  going  at  a  footpace  up  a  steep  hill  among  green 
leav-es.     Presently,  it  stopped,  and  had  come  to  its  destination. 

A  short  walk  brought  us — I  mean  the  Master  and  me — ^to  Salem 
House,  which  was  enclosed  ^\•itll  a  high  brick  wall,  and  looked  very 
dull.  Over  a  door  in  this  wall  was  a  board  with  Salem  House 
upon  it ;  and  through  a  grating  in  this  door  we  were  surveyed  when 
we  rang  the  bell  by  a  surly  face,  which  I  found,  on  the  door  being 
opened,  belonged  to  a  stout  man  with  a  bull-neck,  a  wooden  leg, 
overhanging  temples,  and  his  hah'  cut  close  all  round  his  head. 

"  The  new  boy,"  said  the  Master. 

The  man  with  the  wooden  leg  eyed  me  all  over — it  didn't  take 
long,  for  there  was  not  much  of  me — and  locked  the  gate  behind 
us,  and  took  out  the  key.  We  wei-e  going  up  to  the  house,  among 
some  dark  heavy  trees,  when  he  called  after  my  conductor. 

"Hallo!" 

We  looked  back,  and  he  was  standing  at  the  door  of  a  httle  lodge, 
where  he  lived,  wth  a  pair  of  boots  in  his  hand. 

"  Here  !  The  cobbler's  been,"  he  said,  "  since  you've  been  out,  Mr. 
Mell,  and  he  says  he  can't  mend  'em  any  more.  He  says  there  an't 
a  bit  of  the  original  boot  left,  and  he  wonders  you  expect  it." 

With  these  words  he  threw  the  boots  towards  Mr.  Mell,  who 
went  back  a  few  paces  to  pick  them  up,  and  looked  at  them  (very 
disconsolately,  I  was  afraid),  as  we  went  on  together.  I  observed 
then,  for  the  fii^st  tune,  that  the  boots  he  had  en  were  a  good  deal 
the  worse  for  wear,  and  that  his  stocking  was  just  breaking  out  in 
one  place,  like  a  bud. 

Salem  House  was  a  square  brick  building  ^vith  wings  ;  of  a  i>are 


112  DAVID     COPPER  FIELD. 

and  uiifurnislied  appearance.  All  about  it  wsus  so  very  quiet,  that  X 
s;iid  to  Mr.  Mell  I  supposed  the  boys  were  out ;  but  he  seemed  sur- 
1  rised  at  my  not  knowing  that  it  was  holiday -time.  That  all 
the  boys  were  at  their  several  homes.  That  Mr.  Creakle,  the  pro- 
prietor, was  down  by  the  sea-side  with  Mrs.  and  Miss  Creakle  ;  and 
that  I  was  sent  in  hohday-time  as  a  punishment  for  my  misdoing 
all  of  which  he  explained  to  me  as  we  went  along. 

I  gazed  upon  the  schoolroom  into  which  he  took  me,  as  the  most 
forlorn  and  desolate  place  I  had  ever  seen.  I  see  it  now.  A  long 
room  ^ith  three  long  rows  of  desks,  and  six  of  forms,  and  bristling 
all  round  with  pegs  for  hats  and  slates.  Scraps  of  old  copy-books 
and  exercises  litter  the  dirty  floor.  Some  silk-worms'  houses,  made 
of  the  same  materials,  are  scattered  over  the  desks.  Two  miserable 
white  mice,  left  behind  by  their  owner,  are  running  up  and  down  in 
a  fusty  castle  made  of  pasteboard  and  we,  looking  in  all  the  corners 
with  their  red  eyes  for  an}'thing  to  eat.  A  bird,  in  a  cage  a  very 
httle  bigger  than  himself,  makes  a  mournful  rattle  now  and  then  in 
hopping  on  his  perch,  two  inches  high,  or  dropping  from  it ;  but 
neither  sings  nor  chirps.  There  is  a  strange  unwholesome  smell 
upon  the  room,  like  mildewed  corduroys,  sweet  apples  wanting  air, 
and  rotten  books.  There  could  not  well  be  more  ink  splashed  about 
it,  if  it  had  been  roofless  from  its  first  construction,  and  the  skies  had 
rained,  snowed,  hailed,  and  blown  ink  through  the  varying  seasons 
of  the  year. 

Mr.  Mell  having  left  me  while  he  took  his  irreparable  boots  up- 
(ftairs,  I  went  softly  to  the  upper  end  of  the  room,  observing  all  this 
IS  I  crept  along.  Suddenly  I  came  upon  a  pasteboard  placard, 
beautifully  wTitten,  which  was  l}nng  on  the  desk,  and  bore  these 
<^ords — "  Take  care  of  him.     He  hites^ 

I  got  upon  the  desk  immediately,  apprehensive  of  at  least  a  great 
dog  underneath.  But,  though  I  looked  all  round  with  anxious  eyes, 
I  could  see  nothing  of  him.  I  was  still  engaged  in  peering  about, 
when  Mr.  Mell  came  back,  and  asked  me  what  I  did  up  there. 

"  I  beg  your  pardon,  sir,"  says  I,  "  if  ou  please,  I'm  looking  fot 
the  dog." 

"  Dog  ?"  says  he.     "  What  dog  ?" 

"  Isn't  it  a  dog,  sir  ? ' 

"Isn't  what  a  dog?" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  113 

"  That's  to  be  taken  care  of,  sii' ;  that  bites." 

"  No,  Copperfield,"  says  he  gravely,  "  that's  not  a  dog.  That's  a 
boy.  My  instructions  are,  Copperfield,  to  put  this  placard  on  your 
back.  I  am  sorry  to  make  such  a  beginning  with  you,  but  I  must 
do  it." 

With  that,  he  took  me  down,  and  tied  the  placard,  which  waa 
neatly  constructed  for  the  purpose,  on  my  shoulders  like  a  knap- 
sack ;  and  wherever  I  went,  afterwards,  I  had  the  consolation  of 
carrying  it. 

What  I  suffered  fi'om  that  placard,  nobody  can  imagine.  Whether 
it  was  possible  for  people  to  see  me  or  not,  I  always  fancied  that 
somebody  was  reading  it.  It  was  no  rehef  to  turn  round  and  find 
nobody ;  for  wherever  my  back  was,  there  I  imagined  somebody 
always  to  be.  That  cruel  man  with  the  wooden  leg,  aggravated  my 
suffering's.  He  was  in  authority ;  and  if  he  ever  saw  me  leaning 
against  a  tree,  or  a  wall,  or  the  house,  he  roared  out  from  his  lodge- 
door  in  a  stupendous  voice,  "  Hallo,  you  sir !  You  Copperfield ! 
Show  that  badge  conspicuous,  or  I'll  report  you !"  The  playground 
was  a  bare  gravelled  yard,  open  to  all  the  back  of  the  house  and 
the  offices ;  and  I  kn^w  that  the  servants  read  it,  and  the  butcher 
read  it,  and  the  baker  read  it ;  that  everybody,  in  a  word,  who  came 
backwards  and  forwards  to  the  house,  of  a  morning,  when  I  was 
ordered  to  walk  there,  read  that  I  was  to  be  taken  care  of,  for  I  bit. 
1  recollect  that  I  positively  began  to  have  a  di'ead  of  myself,  as  a 
kind  of  wild  boy  who  did  bite. 

There  was  an  old  door  in  this  playgTound,  on  winch  the  boys  had 
a  custom  of  carnng  their  names.  It  was  completely  covered  with 
such  inscriptions.  In  my  dread  of  the  end  of  the  vacation  and  their 
coming  back,  I  could  not  read  a  boy's  name,  without  enquiring  in 
what  tone  and  with  what  emphasis  he  would  read,  "  take  care  of 
him.  He  bites."  There  was  one  boy — a  certain  J.  Steerforth — who 
cut  his  name  very  deep  and  very  often,  who,  I  conceived,  would 
read  it  in  a  rather  strong  voice,  and  afterwards  pull  my  hair.  There 
was  another  boy,  one  Tommy  Traddles,  who  I  dreaded  would  make 
game  of  it,  and  pretend  to  be  dreadfully  frightened  of  me.  There 
was  a  third,  George  Demple,  who  I  fancied  would  sing  it.  I  have 
looked,  a  httle  shrinking  creature,  at  that  door,  until  the  owners  of 
all  the  names — there  were  five-and -forty  of  them  in  the  school  then, 
7 


114  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

Mr.  Mell  said — seemed  to  send  me  to  Coventry  by  general  acclama- 
tion, and  to  cry  out,  each  in  his  own  way,  "  Take  care  of  him.  He 
bites  !" 

It  was  the  same  with  the  places  at  the  desks  and  forms.  It  was 
the  same  with  the  groves  of  deserted  bedsteads  I  peeped  at,  on  my 
way  to,  and  when  I  was  in,  my  own  bed.  I  remember  dreaming 
night  after  night,  of  being  with  my  mother  as  she  used  to  be,  or  of 
going  to  a  party  at  Mr.  Peggotty's,  or  of  travelling  outside  the  stage- 
coach, or  of  dining  again  with  my  unfortunate  friend  the  waiter,  and 
in  all  these  circumstances  making  people  scream  and  stare,  by  the 
unhappy  disclosure  that  I  had  nothing  on  but  my  httle  night-shirt, 
and  that  placard. 

In  the  monotony  of  my  hfe,  and  in  my  constant  apprehension  of 
the  re-opening  of  the  school,  it  was  such  an  insupportable  affliction  ! 
I  had  long  tasks  every  day  to  do  with  Mr.  Mell ;  but  I  did  them, 
there  being  no  Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  here,  and  got  through 
them  without  disgi-ace.  Before,  and  after  them,  I  walked  about — 
supervised,  as  I  have  mentioned,  by  the  man  with  the  wooden  leg. 
How  vividly  I  call  to  mind  the  damp  about  the  house,  the  green 
cracked  flag-stones  in  the  com-t,  an  old  leaky  water-butt,  and  the 
discolored  trunks  of  some  of  the  grim  trees,  which  seemed  to  have 
dripped  more  in  the  rain  than  other  trees,  and  to  have  blown  less 
in  the  sun  !  At  one  we  dined,  Mr.  Mell  and  I,  at  the  upper  end  of 
a  long  bare  dining-room,  full  of  deal  tables,  and  smelling  of  fat. 
Then,  we  had  more  tasks  until  tea,  which  Mr.  Mell  drank  out  of  a 
blue  tea-cup,  and  I  out  of  a  tin  pot.  All  day  long,  and  until  seven 
or  eight  m  the  evening,  Mr.  Mell,  at  his  own  detached  desk  in  the 
schoohoom,  worked  hard  with  pen,  ink,  ruler,  books,  and  writing- 
paper,  making  out  the  bills  (as  I  found)  for  last  half-year.  When 
he  had  put  up  his  things  for  the  night  he  took  out  his  flute,  and 
blew  at  it,  until  I  almost  thought  he  would  gradually  blow  his  whole 
being  into  the  large  hole  at  the  top,  and  ooze  away  at  the  keys. 

I  picture  my  small  self  in  the  dimly-lighted  rooms,  sitting  with 
my  head  upon  my  hand,  hstening  to  the  doleful  performance  of  Mr. 
Mell,  and  conning  to-morrow's  lessons.  I  picture  myself  with  my  books 
shut  up,  stiU  listening  to  the  doleful  performance  of  Mr.  Mell,  and 
listening  thi'ough  it  to  what  used  to  be  at  home,  and  to  the  blowing 
of  the  wind  on  Yarmouth  flats,  and  feehng  very  sad  and  solitary 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  115 

1  picture  myself  going  up  to  bed,  among  tlie  unused  rooms,  and 
sitting  on  my  bed-side  crying  for  a  comfortable  word  from  Peggotty. 
I  picture  myself  coming  down  stairs  in  the  morning,  and  looking 
through  a  long  ghastly  gash  of  a  staircase-window,  at  the  school- 
bell  hanging  on  the  top  of  an  outhouse,  with  ^a  weathercock  above 
it ;  and  di-eading  the  time  when  it  shall  ring  J.  Steerforth  and  the 
rest  to  work  :  which  is  only  second  to  the  time  when  the  man  with 
the  wooden  leg  shall  unlock  the  rusty  gate  to  give  admission  to  the 
awful  Mr.  Creakle.  I  cannot  think  I  was  a  very  dangerous  charac- 
ter in  any  of  these  aspects,  but  in  all  of  them  I  carried  the  same 
w^arning  on  my  back,  '^ 

Mr.  Mell  never  said  much  to  me,  but  he  was  never  harsh  to  me. 
I  suppose  we  were  company  to  each  other,  witliout  talking.  I  for- 
got to  mention  that  he  would  talk  to  himself  sometimes,  and  grin, 
and  clench  his  fist,  and  grind  his  teeth,  and  pull  his  hair  in  an  un- 
accountable manner.  B\it  he  had  these  pecuharities  :  and  at  .first 
they  frightened  me,  though  I  soon  got  used  to  them. 


CHAPTER  YI. 

I    ENLARGE    MY    CIRCLE    OF    ACQUAINTANCE. 

T  HAD  led  tliis  life  about  a  month,  wlien  the  man  with  the  wooden 
leer  beo-an  to  stump  about  with  a  mop  and  a  bucket  of  water,  from 
which  I  inferred  that  preparations  were  making  to  receive  Mr. 
Creakle  and  the  boys.  I  was  not  mistaken ;  for  the  mop  came  into 
the  schoolroom  before  long,  and  turned  out  Mr.  Mell  and  me,  who 
lived  where  we  could,  and  got  on  how  we  could  for  some  days, 
during  which  we  were  always  in  the  way  of  two  or  three  young 
women,  who  had  rarely  shown  themsels^es  before,  and  were  so  con- 
tinually in  the  midst  of  dust  that  I  sneezed  almost  as  much  as  if 
Salem  House  had  been  a  gTeat  snuff-box. 

One  day  I  was  informed  by  Mr.  Mell  that  Mr.  Creakle  would  Ije 
home  that  evening.  In  the  evening,  after  tea,  I  heard  that  he  was 
come.  Before  bed-time,  I  was  fetched  by  the  man  with  the  wooden 
leg  to  appear  before  him. 

Mr.  Creakle's  part  of  the  house  was  a  good  deal  more  comfortable 
than  oure,  and  he  had  a  snug  bit  of  garden  that  looked  pleasant 
after  the  dusty  playgTound,  which  was  such  a  desert  in  miniature, 
that  I  thought  no  one  but  a  camel,  or  a  dromedary,  could  have  felt 
at  home  in  it.  It  seemed  to  me  a  bold  thing  even  to  take  notice 
that  the  passage  looked  comfortable,  as  I  went  on  my  way^  trem- 
bhng,  to  Mr.  Creakle's  presence :  which  so  abashed  me,  when  I  was 
ushered  into  it,  that  I  hardly  saw  Mrs.  Creakle  or  Miss  Oreaklo 
(who  were  both  there,  in  the  parlor),  or  anything  but  Mr,  Creakle, 
a  stout  gentleman  with  a  bunch  of  watch-chaiu  and  sjals,  in  an  arm- 
chair, with  a  tumbler  and  bottle  beside  him. 

116 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  117 

•*  So !"  said  Mr.  Creakle.  "  Tliis  is  the  young  gentleman  whoso 
teeth  are  to  be  filed !     Turn  him  round." 

The  wooden-legged  man  turned  me  about  so  as  to  exhibit  tlio 
placard ;  and  having  afforded  time  for  a  full  survey  of  it  turned  me 
about  again  with  my  face  to  Mr.  Creakle,  and  posted  himself  at  Mr. 
Creakle's  side.  Mr.  Creakle's  face  was  fiery,  and  his  eyes  were  small, 
and  deep  in  his  head :  he  had  thick  veins  in  his  forehead,  a  httle 
nose,  and  a  large  chin.  He  was  bald  on  the  top  of  his  head ;  and 
had  some  thin  wet-looking  hair  that  was  just  turning  grey,  brushed 
across  each  temple,  so  that  the  two  sides  interlaced  on  his  forehead. 
But  the  circumstance  about  him  which  impressed  me  most,  was,  that 
he  had  no  voice,  but  spoke  in  a  whisper.  The  exertion  this  cost 
him,  or  the  consciousness  of  talking  in  that  feeble  way,  made  his 
angry  face  so  much  more  angTy,  and  his  thick  veins  so  much 
thicker,  when  he  spoke,  that  I  am  not  surprised,  on  looking  back, 
at  this  peculiarity  striking  me  as  his  chief  one. 

"  Now,"  said  Mr.  Creakle.     "  What's  the  report  of  this  boy  ?" 

"There's  nothing  against  him  yet,"  returned  the  man  with  the 
wooden  leg.     "  There  has  been  no  opportunity." 

I  thought  Mr.  Creakle  was  disappointed.  I  thought  Mrs.  and 
Miss  Creakle  (at  whom  I  now  glanced  for  the  first  time,  and  who 
were,  both,  thin  and  quiet)  were  not  disappointed. 

"  Come  here,  sir  1"  said  Mr.  Creakle,  beckoning  to  me. 

"  Come  here  1"  said  the  man  with  the  wooden  leg,  repeating  the 
gesture. 

"  I  have  the  happiness  of  knowing  your  father-in-law,"  whispered 
Mr,  Creakle,  taking  me  by  the  ear ;  "  and  a  worthy  man  he  is,  and 
a  man  of  a  strong  character.  He  knows  me,  and  I  know  him.  Do 
you  know  me !  Hey  ?"  said  Mr.  Creakle,  pinching  my  ear  with 
ferocious  playfulness. 

"  Not  yet,  sir,"  I  said,  flinching  with  the  pain. 

"  Not  yet  ?  Hey  ?"  repeated  Mr.  Creakle.  "  But  you  ^vill  soon 
Hey?" 

"  You  will  soon.  Hey  ?"  repeated  the  man  with  the  wooden  log. 
I  afterwards  found  that  he  generally  acted,  with  his  strong  voice,  m 
Mr.  Creakle's  interpreter  to  the  boys. 


118  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  was  very  mucli  frightened,  and  said,  I  hoped  so,  if  he  pleased.  1 
felt  all  this  while,  as  if  my  ear  were  hlazing  ;  he  pinched  it  so  hard. 

"  I'll  tell  you  what  I  am,"  whispered  ^Ir.  Ci'eakle,  letting  it  go  at 
last,  with  a  screw  at  parting  that  brought  the  water  into  my  eyes. 
"  I'm  a  Tartar." 

"  A  Tartar,"  said  the  man  with  the  wooden  leg. 

"  When  I  say  I'll  do  a  thing,  I  do  it,"  said  Mr.  Creakle  ;  "  and 
when  I  say  I  will  have  a  thing  done,  I  will  have  it  done." 

" — Will  have  a  thing  done,  I  will  have  it  done,"  repeated  the  man 
with  the  wooden  leg. 

"  I  am  a  determined  character,"  said  Mr.  Creakle.  "  Tliat's  what  I 
am.  I  do  my  duty.  That's  what  /  do.  My  flesh  and  blood" — he 
looked  at  Mrs.  Creakle  as  he  said  this — "  when  it  rises  against  me, 
is  not  my  flesh  and  blood.  I  discard  it.  Has  that  fellow,"  to  the 
man  with  the  wooden  leg,  "  been  here  again  ?" 

"No,"  was  the  answer. 

"No,"  said  Mr.  Creakle.  "He  knows  better.  He  knows  me. 
Let  him  keep  away.  I  say  let  him  keep  away,"  said  Mr.  Creakle, 
strildng  his  hand  upon  the  table,  and  looking  at  Mrs.  Creakle,  "  for 
he  knows  me.  Now  you  have  begim  to  know  me  too,  my  young 
fi-iend,  and  you  may  go.     Take  him  away." 

I  was  veiy  glad  to  be  ordered  away,  for  Mrs.  and  Miss  Creakle 
w'ert  bdtli  wiping  their  eyes,  and  I  felt  as  uncomfortable  for  them,  as 
I  did  for  myself.  But  I  had  a  petition  on  my  mind  which  concerned 
me  so  nearly,  that  I  couldn't  help  saying,  though  I  wondered  at  my 
own  courage : 

"  K  you  please,  sir — " 

Mr.  Creakle  whispered  "  Hah !  "What's  this  ?"  and  bent  his  eyes 
upon  me,  as  if  he  would  have  burnt  me  up  with  them. 

"  If  you  please,  sir,"  I  faltered,  "  if  I  might  be  allowed  (I  am  very 
sorry  indeed,  sir,  for  what  I  did)  to  take  this  writing  off,  before  the 
boys  come  back — " 

Whether  Mr.  Creakle  was  in  earnest,  or  whether  he  only  did  it 
to  fi*ighten  me,  I  don't  know,  but  he  made  a  burst  out  of  his  chair, 
before  which  I  precijjitately  retreated,  without  waiting  for  the  escort 
of  the  man  with,  the  wooden  leg,  and  never  once  stopped  until  I 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  119 

readied  my  own  bedroom,  where,  finding  I  was  not  pursued,  I  went 
to  bed,  as  it  was  time,  and  lay  quaking,  for  a  couple  of  hours. 

Next  moi-ning  Mr.  Sharp  came  back.  Mr.  Sharp  was  the  first  mas- 
ter, and  supenor  to  Mr.  Mell.  Mr.  M(;ll  took  his  meals  witli  tlw3  boys, 
but  Mr.  Sharp  dined  and  supped  at  jMr.  Creakle's  table.  He  was  a 
limp,  dehcate-looking  gentleman,  I  thought,  with  a  good  deal  of 
nose,  and  a  way  of  carrying  his  head  on  one  side,  as  if  it  were  a  httle 
too  hea\y  for  him.  His  hah*  was  very  smooth  and  wavy ;  but  I  was 
informed  by  the  very  first  boy  who  came  back  that  it  was  a  wig  (a 
second-hand  one  he  said),  and  that  Mr.  Sharj)  went  out  every  Satur- 
day afternoon  to  get  it  curled. 

It  was  no  otliei-  than  Tommy  Tr addles  who  gave  me  this  piece  of 
intelligence.  He  was  the  first  boy  who  returned.  He  introduced 
himself  by  informing  me  that  I  should  find  his  name  on  the  right- 
hand  corner  of  the  gate,  over  the  top  bolt ;  upon  that  I  said  "  Master 
Traddles  V  to  which  he  rephcd,  "  the  same,"  and  then  he  asked  me 
for  a  full  account  of  myself  and  family. 

It  was  a  happy  circumstance  for  me  that  Traddles  came  back  first. 
He  enjoyed  my  placard  so  much,  that  he  saved  me  from  the  em- 
barrassment of  either  disclosure  or  concealment,  by  presenting  me 
to  every  other  boy  who  came  back,  gi^at  or  small,  immediately  on 
his  arrival,  in  this  form  of  introduction,  "  Look  here !  Here's  a 
game !"  Happily,  too,  the  greater  part  of  the  boys  came  back  low 
spii-ited,  and  were  not  so  boisterous  at  my  expense  as  I  had  expected. 
Some  of  them  certainly  did  dance  about  me  like  wild  Indians,  and 
the  greater  part  could  not  resist  the  temptation  of  pretending  that  I 
was  a  dog,  and  patting  and  smoothing  me  lest  I  should  bite,  and 
saying  "  Lie  down,  sir !"  and  calling  me  Towzer.  This  was  naturally 
confusing,  among  so  many  strangers,  and  cost  me  some  tears,  but  on 
the  whole  it  was  much  better  than  I  had  anticipated. 

I  was  not  considered  as  being  formally  received  into  the  school, 
however,  until  J.  Steerforth  arrived.  Before  this  boy,  who  was 
reputed  to  be  a  great  scholar,  and  was  very  good-looKii  g,  and  at 
least  half-a-dozen  years  my  senior,  I  was  carried  as  before  a  magistrate. 
He  enquired,  under  a  shed  in  the  playground,  into  the  particular 
of  my  punishment,  and  was  pleased  to  express  his  opinion  that  it 


120  DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  ' 

was  "  a  jolly  shame ;"  for  whicli  I  became  bound  to  him  ever  after- 
wards. 

"  T\Tiat  money  have  you  got,  Copperfield  ? "  he  said,  walking 
aside  with  me  when  he  had  disj)osed  of  my  affiiir  in  these  terms. 

I  told  him  seven  shinins2:s. 

"  You  had  better  give  it  to  me  to  take  care  of,"  he  said.  "  At 
least,  you  can  if  you  like.     You  needn't  if  you  don't  like." 

I  hastened  to  comply  with  his  friendly  suggestion,  and  opening 
Peggotty's  purse,  turned  it  upside  dowTi  into  his  hand. 

"  Do  you  want  to  spend  anytliing  now  ? "  he  asked  me. 

"  No  thank  you,"  I  replied.  * 

"  You  can  if  you  like,  you  know,"  said  Steerforth.  "  Say  the 
word." 

"  No  thank  you,  sir,"  I  repeated. 

"  Perhaps  you'd  like  to  spend  a  couple  of  shilhngs  or  so,  in  a 
bottle  of  currant  wine  Ijy-and-by,  up  in  the  bedi'oom  ? "  said  Steer- 
forth.     "  You  belong  to  my  bedroom  I  find." 

It  certainly  had  not  occurred  to  me  before,  but  I  said.  Yes,  1 
should  like  that. 

"  Very  good,"  said  Steerforth.  "  You'll  be  glad  to  spend  another 
shilling  or  so,  in  almond  cakes,  I  dare  say  ? " 

I  said.  Yes,  I  should  like  that  too. 

"  And  another  shilling  or  so  in  biscuits,  and  another  in  fi-uit,  eh  ? " 
said  Steerforth.     "  I  say,  young  Copperfield,  you're  going  it ! " 

I  smiled  because  he  smiled,  but  I  was  a  little  troubled  in  my 
mind,  too. 

"  Well ! "  said  Steerforth.  "  We  must  make  it  stretch  as  far 
as  we  can ;  that's  all.  I'll  do  the  best  in  my  power  for  you.  I 
can  go  out  when  I  hke,  and  I'll  smuggle  the  prog  in."  With 
these  words  he  put  the  money  in  his  pocket,  and  kindly  told 
me  not  to  make  myself  uneasy ;  he  would  take  care  it  should  be  all 
right. 

He  was  as  good  as  his  word,  if  that  were  all  right  which  I  had  a 
secret  misgi%dng  was  nearly  all  wrong — for  I  feared  it  was  a  waste 
of  my  mother's  two  half-crowns — thougli  I  had  preserved  the 
piece  of  paper  they  were  wrapped  in  :  whieh  was  a  precious  saving. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  121 

When  we  wont  up  stairs  to  bed,  lie  produced  the  wliole  seven 
shillings  worth,  and  laid  it  out  on  iny  bed  in  the  moonlight, 
saying : 

"  There  you  are,  young  Copperfield,  and  a  royal  spread  you  Vf 
got !" 

I  couldn't  think  of  doing  the  honors  of  the  feast,  at  my  time  of 
life,  while  he  was  by  ;  my  hand  shook  at  the  very  thought  of  it.  I 
begged  him  to  do  me  the  favor  of  presiding ;  and  my  request  being 
seconded  by  the  other  boys  who  were  in  that  room,  he  acceded  to  it, 
and  sat  upon  my  pillow,  handing  round  the  viands — with  perfect 
fairness  I  must  say — and^ dispensing  the  currant  wine  in  a  little  glass 
without  a  foot,  which  was  his  own  property.  As  to  me,  I  sat  on 
his  left  hand,  and  the  rest  were  grouped  about  us,  on  the  nearest 
beds  and  on  the  floor. 

How  well  I  recollect  our  sitting  there,  talking  in  whispers ;  or 
their  talking,  and  my  res] 'octfully  hstening,  I  ought  rather  to  say; 
the  moonlight  faUing  a  little  way  into  the  room,  through  the  win- 
dow, painting  a  pale  window  on  the  floor,  and  the  greater  part  of 
us  in  shadow,  except  when  Steerforth  dipped  a  match  into  a  phos- 
phorus-box, when  he  wanted  to  look  for  anything  on  the  board, 
and  shed  a  blue  glare  over  us  that  was  gone  directly !  A  certain 
mysterious  feeling,  consequent  on  the  darkness,  the  secresy  of  the 
revel,  and  the  whisper  in  which  everything  was  said,  steals  over  me 
again,  and  I  listen  to  all  they  tell  me  with  a  vague  feeling  of  solem- 
nity and  awe,  which  makes  me  glad  that  they  are  all  so  near,  and 
frightens  me  (though  I  feign  to  laugh)  when  Traddles  pretends  to 
see  a  ghost  in  the  corner. 

I  heard  all  kinds  of  thin^  about  the  school  and  all  belono-inof  to 
it.  I  heard  that  Mr.  Creakle  had  not  preferred  his  claim  to  being 
a  Tartar  without  reason  ;  that  he  was  the  sternest  and  most  severe 
of  masters ;  that  he  laid  about  him,  right  and  left,  every  day  of  his 
hfe,  charging  in  among  the  boys  like  a  trooper,  and  slashing  awav, 
unmercifidly.  That  he  knew  nothing  himself,  but  the  art  of  slash- 
ing, being  more  ignorant  (J.  Steerforth  said)  than  the  lowest  boy  in 
tiie  school ;  that  he  had  been,  a  good  many  years  ago,  a  small  hop- 
dealer  in  the  Borough,  and  had  tiiken  to  the  schooling  business  aftei 


122  DAVID    COPTERFIELD. 

being  bankrupt  m  hops,  and  making  away  with  Mrs.  Creakle'a 
money.  With  a  good  deal  more  of  that  sort,  which  I  wondered 
how  they  knew. 

I  heard  that  the  man  with  the  wooden  leg,  whose  name  was 
Tungay,  was  an  obstinate  barbarian  who  had  formerly  assisted  in 
the  hop  business,  but  had  come  into  the  scholastic  line  with  Mr, 
Creakle,  in  consequence,  as  was  supposed  among  the  boys,  of  his 
ha^^nlr  broken  his  leg;  in  Mr.  Creakle's  sernce,  and  ha\T.no-  done  a 
deal  of  dishonest  work  for  him,  and  knowing  his  secrets.  I  heaid 
that  with  the  single  exception  of  Mr.  Creakle,  Tungay  considered  the 
whole  establishment,  masters  and  boys,  as  his  natural  enemies,  and 
that  the  only  dehght  of  his  life  was  to  be  sour  and  malicious.  I 
heard  that  Mr.  Creakle  had  a  son,  who  had  not  been  Tungay's 
friend,  and  who,  assisting  in  the  school,  had  once  held  some  remon- 
strance with  his  father  on  an  occasion  when  its  disciphne  was 
very  cruelly  exercised,  and  was  supposed,  besides,  to  have 
protested  against  his  father's  usage  of  his  mother.  I  heard 
that  Mr.  Creakle  had  turned  him  out  of  dooi*s  in  consequence, 
and  that  Mrs.  and  Miss  Creakle  had  been  in  a  sad  way,  ever 
since. 

But  the  greatest  wonder  that  I  heard  of  Mr.  Creakle  was, 
there  being  one  boy  in  the  school  on  whom  he  never  ven- 
tured to  lay  a  hand,  and  that  boy  being  J.  Steerforth.  Steer- 
forth  himself  confirmed  this  when  it  was  stated,  and  said  that 
he  should  like  to  begin  to  see  him  do  it.  On  being  asked 
by  a  mild  boy  (not  me)  how  he  w^ould  proceed  if  he  did 
begin  to  see  him  do  it,  he  dipped  a  match  into  his  phosphorus 
box  on  purpose  to  shed  a  glare  over  his  reply,  and  said  he 
would  commence  by  knocking  him  do^n  with  a  blow  on  the 
forehead  from  the  sev^en-and-sixpenny  ink-bottle  that  was  always 
on  the  mantelpiece.  We  sat  in  the  dark  for  some  time,  breath- 
less. 

I  heard  that  Mr.  Sharp  and  Mr.  Mell  were  both  supposed  to  be 
wretchedly  paid ;  and  that  when  there  was  hot  and  cold  meat  for 
dinner  at  Mr.  Creakle's  table,  Mr.  Sharp  was  always  expected  to  say 
he  preferred  cold  ;  which  was  again  corroborated  by  J.  Steerforth, 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  123 

the  only  parlor-boarder.  I  heard  that  Mr.  Sharp's  wig  didn't  fit 
him ;  and  that  he  needn't  be  so  "  bounceable" — somebody  else  said 
"  bumptious" — about  it,  because  his  own  red  hair  was  very  plainly 
to  be  seen  behind. 

I  heard  that  one  boy,  who  was  a  coal-merchant's  son,  came  as  a 
set-off  against  the  coal  bill,  and  was  called  on  that  account  "  Exchange 
or  Barter" — a  name  selected  from  the  arithmetic  book  as  expressing 
this  arrangement.  I  heard  that  the  table  beer  was  a  robbery  of 
parents,  and  the  pudding  an  imposition.  I  heard  that  Miss  Creakle 
was  regarded  by  the  school  in  general  as  being  in  love  with  Steer- 
forth  ;  and  I  am  sure,  as  I  sat  in  the  dark,  thinking  of  his  nice  voice, 
and  his  fine  face,  and  his  easy  manner,  and  his  curling  hair,  I  thought 
it  very  likely.  I  heard  that  Mr.  Mell  was  not  a  bad  sort  of  fellow, 
but  hadn't  a  sixpence  to  bless  himself  "«ith ;  and  that  there  was  no 
doubt  that  old  Mrs.  Mell,  his  mother,  was  as  poor  as  Job.  I  thought 
of  my  breakfast  then,  and  what  had  sounded  like  "  My  Charley  ! "  but" 
I  was,  I  am  glad  to  remember,  as  mute  as  a  mouse  about  it. 

The  hearing  of  all  this,  and  a  good  deal  more,  outlasted  the 
banquet  some  time.  The  gi'eater  part  of  the  guests  had  gone  to  bed 
as  soon  as  the  eating  and  drinking  were  over ;  and  we,  who  had 
remained  whispering  and  listening  half  undressed,  at  last  betook 
om-selves  to  bed,  too. 

"  Good  night,  young  Coppei-field,"  said  Steerforth,  "  I'll  take  care 
of  you." 

"  You're,  very  kind,"  I  gTatefully  returned.  "  I  am  much  obliged 
to  you,  indeed." 

"  You  haven't  got  a  sister,  have  you  ? "  said  Steerforth, 
yawning. 

"  No,"  I  answered. 

"  That's  a  pity,"  said  Steei-forth.  "  If  you  had  one,'  I  should 
think  she  would  have  been  a  pretty,  timid,  little,  bright-eyed  sort 
of  girl.  I  should  have  liked  to  know  her.  Good  night,  young 
Copperfield." 

"  Good  night,  sir,"  I  replied. 

I  thought  of  him  very  much  after  I  went  to  bed,  and  raised  my- 
self, I  recollect,  to  look  at  him  where  he  lay  in  the  moonlight,  with 


j24  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

his  handsome  face  turned  up,  and  his  head  redining  easily  on  his 
arm.  He  was  a  person  of  gi-eat  power  in  my  eyes ;  that  was  oi 
course  the  reason  of  my  mind  running  on  him.  No  veiled  future 
dimly  glanced  upon  him  in  the  moonbeams.  There  was  no  shadowy 
picture  of  his  footsteps,  in  the  garden  that  I  dreamed  of — the 
garden  that  I  picked  up  shalls  and  pebbles  in,  with  httle  Em'ly,  all 
niglt. 


CHAPTER  VII. 


School  began  in  earnest  next  day.  A  profound  impression  was 
made  upon  me,  I  remember,  by  the  roar  of  voices  in  the  schoc^l- 
»-'^om  suddenly  becoming  hushed  as  death  when  Mr.  Creakle  entered 
after  breakfast,  and  stood  in  the  doorway  looking  round  upon  us 
like  a  giant  in  a  story-book  surveying  his  captives. 

Tungay  stood  at  Mr.  Creakle's  elbow.  He  had  no  occasion,  I 
i.uought,  to  cry  out  "  Silence  ! "  so  ferociously,  for  the  boys  were  all 
struck  speechless  and  motionless. 

Mr.  Creakle  was  seen  to  speak,  and  Tungay  was  heard,  to  this 
effect. 

•*  Now,  boys,  this  is  a  new  half.  Take  care  what  you're  about, 
in  this  new  half.  Come  fresh  up  to  the  lessons,  I  advise  you,  for  T 
r^me  fresh  up  to  the  punishment.  I  won't  flinch.  It  will  be  of  no 
use  your  rubbing  yourselves ;  you  won't  rub  the  marks  out  that  I 
Stiall  give  you.     Now  get  to  work,  every  boy  ! " 

When  this  dreadful  exordium  was  over,  and  Tungay  had  stumped 
oi.t  again,  Mr.  Creakle  came  to  where  I  sat,  and  told  me  that  if  I 
were  famous  for  biting,  he  was  famous  for  biting,  too.  He  then 
showed  me  the  cane,  and  asked  me  what  I  thought  of  that,  for  a 
tooth  ?  Was  it  a  sharp  tooth,  hey  ?  Was  it  a  double  tooth,  hey  ? 
Had  it  a  deep  prong,  hey  ?  Did  it  bite,  hey  ?  Did  it  bite  ?  At 
every  question  he  gave  me  a  fleshy  cut  with  it  that  made  me 
writhe  ;  so  I  was  very  soon  made  free  of  Salem  House  (as  Steerforth 
said),  and  very  soon  in  tears  also. 

Not  that  I  mean  to  say  these  were  special  marks  of  distinction, 
which  only  I  received.  On  the  contrary,  a  large  majority  of  the 
boys  (especially  the  smaller  ones)  were  visited  with  similar  instances 
of  notice,  as  Mr.  Creakle  made  the  round  of  the  schoolroom.  Half 
the  establishment  was  writhing  and  crjnng,  before  the  day's  woi'k 
began  ;  and  liow  much  of  it  had  writhed  and  cried  before  the  day's 

125 


126  DAVID    COrPERFIELD. 

work  was  over,  I  am  really  afraid  to  recollect,  lest  I  should  seem  to 
exaggerate. 

I  should  think  there  never  can  have  been  a  man  who  enjoyed  his 
profession  more  than  Mr.  Greakle  did.  lie  had  a  delight  in  cutting 
at  the  boys,  which  was  like  the  satisfaction  of  a  craving  apix>tite,  I 
am  confident  that  he  couldn't  resist  a  chubby  boy,  especially  ;  that 
there  w;is  a  fa-^^ination  in  such  a  subject^  which  made  liim  restless 
in  his  mind,  until  he  had  scored  and  marked  hmi  for  the  day.  I 
was  chubby  myself,  and  ought  to  know.  I  am  sure  when  I  think 
of  the  fellow  now,  my  blood  rises  against  him  with  the  disinterested 
indignation  I  should  feel  if  I  could  have  known  all  al>out  him  "with- 
out having  ever  been  in  his  power ;  but  it  rises  hotly,  Ixvause  I 
know  him  to  have  been  an  incapable  brute,  who  had  no  more  right 
to  be  possessed  of  the  great  trust  he  held,  than  to  be  Lord  High 
Admiral,  or  Commander-in-chief :  in  either  of  which  capacities,  it  is 
probable  that  he  would  have  done  infinitely  less  mischief. 

Miserable  little  propitiators  of  a  remorseless  Idol,  how  abject  we 
were  to  him !  what  a  launch  in  life  I  think  it  now,  on  looking  back, 
to  be  so  mean  and  servile  to  a  man  of  such  parts  and  pretensions  ! 

Here  I  sit  at  the  desk  again,  watching  his  eye — humbly  watching 
his  eye,  as  he  rules  a  cyphering-book  for  another  victim  whose 
hands  have  just  been  flattened  by  that  identical  ruler,  and  who  is 
trying  to  wipe  the  sting  out  with  a  pocket-handkerchief  I  have 
plenty  to  do.  I  don't  watch  his  eye  in  idleness,  but  because  I  am 
»norbidly  attracted  to  it,  in  a  dread  desire  to  know  what  he  will  do  next, 
and  whether  it  will  be  my  turn  to  sutler,  or  somebody  else's.  A 
lane  of  small  boys  beyond  me,  with  the  same  interest  in  his  eye, 
watch  it  too.  I  think  he  knows  it,  though  he  pretends  he  don't. 
He  makes  dreadful  moutlis  as  he  rules  the  cyphering-book ;  and 
now  he  throws  his  eye  sideways  down  our  lane,  and  we  all  droop 
over  our  books  and  tremble.  A  moment  afterwards  we  are  agaiu 
eyeing  him.  An  unhappy  culprit,  found  guilty  of  imperfect  exer- 
dse,  approaches  at  his  command.  The  culprit  filters  ex-cuses,  and 
professes  a  determination  to  do  better  to-morrow.  Mr.  Creakle  cuts 
a  joke  before  he  beats  him,  and  we  laugh  at  it, — miserable  Httle 
dogs,  we  laugh,  with  our  ^^sages  as  white  as  ashes,  and  our  hearts 
sinking  into  our  boots. 

Here  I  sit  at  the  desk  again,  on  a  drowsy  smnmer  afternoon.     A 


IXAVID    COPPERFIELD.  127 

buzz  and  hum  go  up  around  me,  as  if  the  bojs  were  so  nianj  blue- 
bottles. A  cloggy  sensation  of  the  lukewarm  fat  of  meat  is  iip<Hi 
me  (we  dined  an  hour  or  two  ago),  and  my  head  is  £k  heavy  as  so 
much  lead.  I  would  give  the  world  to  go  to  sleep.  I  sit  with  my 
eye  on  Mr.  Creakle,  blinking  at  him  like  a  young  owl ;  when  sleep 
overpowers  me  for  a  minute,  he  still  looms  through  my  slumber, 
ruling  those  cyf ihering-books  ;  until  he  softly  comes  behind  me  and 
wakes  me  to  plainer  perception  of  him,  with  a  red  ridge  across  my 
back. 

Here  I  am  in  the  playground,  with  my  eye  still  fasdnated  by 
him,  though  I  can't  see  him.  The  window  at  a  Httle  distance  from 
which  I  know  he  is  having  his  dinner,  stands  for  him,  and  I  eye 
that  instead.  K  he  shows  his  fece  near  it,  mine  a^umes  an 
imploring  and  submissive  expression.  If  he  looks  out  through  the 
glass,  the  boldest  boy  (Steerforth  excepted)  stops  in  the  middle  of  a 
shout  or  yell,  and  becomes  contemplative.  One  day,  Traddles  (the 
most  unfortunate  hoj  in  the  world)  breaks  thai  window  accidentally, 
with  a  ball.  I  shudder  at  this  moment  with  the  tremendous 
sensation  of  seeing  it  done,  and  feeling  that  the  ball  has  boimded 
on  to  Mr.  Creakle's  sacred  head. 

Poor  Traddles  I  In  a  tight  sky-blue  suit  that  made  his  arms  and 
legs  like  German  sausages,  or  roly-poly  puddings,  he  was  the  mer- 
riest and  most  miserable  of  all  the  boys.  He  was  always  being  caned 
— I  think  he  was  caned  every  day  that  half-year,  except  one  hohday 
Monday  when  he  was  only  ruler'd  on  both  hands — and  was  always 
going  to  write  to  his  uncle  about  it,  and  never  did.  After  laying 
his  head  on  the  desk  for  a  httle  while,  he  would  cheer  up,  somehow, 
begin  to  laugh  again,  and  draw  skeletons  all  over  his  slate,  before 
his  eyes  were  dry.  I  used  at  first  to  wonder  what  comfort  Traddles 
found  in  drawing  skeletons  ;  and  for  some  time  looked  upon  him  as 
a  sort  of  hermit,  who  reminded  himself  by  those  symbols  of  mortahty 
that  caning  couldn't  last  for  ever.  But  I  beheve  he  only  did  it 
because  they  were  easy,  and  didn't  want  any  features. 

He  was  very  honorable,  Traddles  was ;  and  held  it  as  a  solemn 
duty  in  the  boys  to  stand  by  one  another.  He  suffered  for  this  on 
several  occasions  ;  and  particularly  once,  when  Steerforth  laughed  in 
church,  and  the  Beadle  thought  it  was  Traddles,  and  took  him  out. 
I  see  him  now,  going  away  in  custody,  despised  by  the  congrega- 


128  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

tion.  lie  never  said  who  was  the  real  offender,  though  Le  smarted 
for  it  next  day,  and  was  imprisoned  so  many  hom"s  that  he  came 
forth  with  a  whole  churchyard-full  of  skeletons  sw^arming  all  over  his 
Latin  Dictionary.  But  he  had  his  reward.  Steerforth  said  there  was 
nothing  of  the  sneak  in  Traddles,  and  we  all  felt  that  to  be  the  high- 
est praise.  For  my  part,  I  could  have  gone  through  a  good  deal 
(though  I  was  inuch  less  brave  than  Traddles,  and  uothing  like  so 
old)  to  have  won  such  a  recompense. 

To  see  Steerforth  walk  to  church  before  us,  arm-in-arm  with  Miss 
Creakle,  was  one  of  the  great  sights  of  my  life.  I  didn't  think  Miss 
Creakle  equal  to  little  Em'ly  in  point  of  beauty,  and  I  didn't  love 
her  (I  didn't  dare)  ;  but  I  thought  her  a  young  lady  of  extraordinary 
attractions,  and  in  point  of  gentihty  not  to  be  surpassed.  When 
Steerforth,  in  white  trousers,  carried  her  parasol  for  her,  I  felt  proud 
to  know  him  ;  and  believed  that  she  could  not  choose  but  adore  him 
with  all  her  heart.  Mr.  Sharp  and  jMr.  Moll  were  both  notable  per- 
sonages in  ray  eyes ;  but  Steerforth  was  to  them  wiiat  the  sun  was 
to  two  stars. 

Steerforth  continued  his  protection  of  me,  and  proved  a  very  use- 
ful fi-iend ;  since  nobody  dared  to  annoy  one  whom  he  honored  with 
his  countenance.  He  couldn't — or  at  all  events,  he  didn't — defend 
me  from  Mr.  Creakle,  who  was  very  severe  with  me  ;  but  whenever 
I  had  been  treated  worse  than  usual,  he  always  told  me  that  I 
wanted  a  little  of  his  pluck,  and  that  he  wouldn't  have  stood  it  him- 
self ;  which  I  felt  he  intended  for  encouragement,  and  considered  to 
be  very  kind  of  him.  There  was  one  advantage,  and  only  one  that 
I  knew  of,  in  Mr.  Creakle's  severity.  He  found  my  placard  in  his 
way,  when  he  came  up  oi  down  behind  the  form  on  which  I  sat, 
and  wanted  to  make  a  cut  at  me  in  passing ;  for  this  reason  it  was 
soon  taken  off,  and  I  saw  it  no  more. 

An  accidental  circumstance  cemented  the  intimacy  between  Steer- 
forth and  me,  in  a  manner  that  inspired  me  with  great  pride  and 
satisfaction,  though  it  sometimes  led  to  inconvenience.  It  happened 
on  one  occasion,  when  he  was  doing  me  the  honor  of  talking  to  me 
in  the  playground,  that  I  hazarded  the  observation  that  something 
or  somebody — I  forget  what  now — was  like  something  or  somebody 
in  Peregrine  Pickle.  He  said  nothing  at  the  time  ;  but  when  I  was 
going  to  bed  at  night,  asked  me  f  I  had  got  that  book. 


DAVID     COPPER  FIELD.  129 

1  told  him  no,  and  explained  how  it  was  that  I  had  read  it,  and 
all  those  other  books  of  which  I  have  made  mention. 

"  And  do  you  recollect  them  ?"  Steerforth  said. 

"  Oh  yes,"  I  replied ;  "  I  had  a  good  memory,  and  I  believed  T 
recollected  them  very  well." 

"  Then  I  tell  you  what,  young  Copperfield,"  said  Steerforth,  "  you 
shall  tell  'em  to  me.  I  can't  get  to  sleep  very  early  at  night,  and  I 
generally  wake  rather  early  in  the  morning.  We  '11  go  over  'era 
one  after  another.     We  '11  make  some  regular  Ai-abian  Nights  of  it." 

I  felt  extremely  flattered  by  this  arrangement,  and  we  commenced 
carrpng  it  into  execution  that  very  evening.  What  ravages  I  com- 
mitted on  my  favorite  authors  in  the  course  of  my  interpretation  of 
them,  I  am  not  in  a  condition  to  say,  and  should  be  very  unwilhng 
to  know  ;  but  I  had  a  profound  faith  in  them,  and  I  had,  to  the  best 
of  my  belief^  a  simple,  earnest  manner  of  narrating  what  I  did  nar- 
rate ;  and  these  qualities  went  a  long  way. 

■The  di'awback  was,  that  I  was  often  sleepy  at  night,  or  out  of 
spirits  and  indisposed  to  resume  the  story  ;  and  then  it  was  rather 
hard  work,  and  it  must  be  done ;  for  to  disappoint  or  displease 
Steerforth  was  of  course  out  of  the  question.  In  the  morning,  too, 
when  I  felt  weary  and  should  have  enjoyed  another  hour's  repose 
very  much,  it  was  a  tiresome  thing  to  be  roused,  like  the  Sultana 
Scheherazade,  and  forced  into  a  long  story  before  the  getting-up  bell 
rang ;  but  Steerforth  was  resolute ;  and  as  he  explained  to  me,  in 
return,  my  sums  and  exercises,  and  anything  in  my  tasks  that  tvas 
tx)o  hard  for  me,  I  was  no  loser  by  the  transaction.  Let  me  do  my- 
self justice,  however.  I  was  moved  by  no  interested  or  selfish  mo- 
tive, nor  was  I  moved  by  fear  of  him.  I  admired  and  loved  him, 
and  his  approval  was  return  enough.  It  was  so  precious  to  me  that 
I  look  back  on  these  trifles,  now,  ^ith  an  aching  heart. 

Steerforth  was  considerate,  too  ;  and  showed  his  consideration,  in 
one  particular  instance,  in  an  unflinching  manner  that  was  a  httle 
tantalising,  I  suspect,  to  poor  Traddles  and  the  rest.  Peggotty's 
promised  letter — what  a  comfortable  letter  it  was  ! — arrived  before 
"  the  half"  was  many  weeks  old ;  and  with  it  a  cake  in  a  perfect 
nest  of  oranges,  and  two  battles  of  cowslip  wine.  This  treasure,  as 
in  duty  bound,  I  laid  at  the  feet  of  Steerforth,  and  begged  him  to 
dispense. 
8 


130  DAVID    COPPEllFIELD. 

"  Now,  I  '11  tell  you  wliat,  young  Copperfield,"  said  he :  "  the 
wine  shall  be  kept  to  wet  your  whistle  when  you  are  story-telhng." 

I  blushed  at  the  idea,  and  begged  him,  in  my  modesty,  not  to 
think  of  it.  But  he  said  he  had  observed  I  was  sometimes  hoarse — 
a  httle  roopy  was  his  exact  expression — and  it  should  be,  every  drop, 
devoted  to  the  pui-pose  he  had  mentioned.  Accordingly,  it  was 
locked  up  in  his  box,  and  drawn  off  by  himself  in  a  phial,  and  ad- 
ministered to  me  through  a  piece  of  quill  in  the  cork,  when  I  was 
supposed  to  be  in  want  of  a  restorative..  Sometimes,  to  make  it 
a  more  sovereign  specific,  he  was  so  kind  as  to  squeeze  orange  juice 
into  it,  or  to  stir  it  up  with  ginger,  or  dissolve  a  peppermint  drop  in 
it ;  and  although  I  cannot  assert  that  the  flavour  was  improved  by 
these  experiments,  or  that  it  was  exactly  the  compound  one  would 
have  chosen  for  a  stomachic,  the  last  thing  at  night  and  the  first 
thmg  in  the  morning,  I  drank  it  gratefully  and  was  very  sensible  of 
his  attention. 

AVe  seem,  to  me,  to  have  been  months  over  Peregrine,  and 
months  more  over  the  other  stories.  The  institution  never  flagged 
for  want  of  a  story,  I  am  certain ;  and  the  wine  lasted  out  almost 
as  well  as  the  matter.  Poor  Traddles — I  never  think  of  that  boy 
but  with  a  strange  disposition  to  laugh,  and  with  tears  in  my  ejes 
— was  a  sort  of  chorus,  in  general ;  and  aflfected  to  be  convulsed 
with  mirth  at  the  comic  parts,  and  to  be  overcome  with  fear  when, 
there  was  any  passage  of  an  alarming  character  in  the  narrative. 
This  rather  put  me  out,  very  often.  It  was  a  great  jest  of  his,  I 
recollect,  to  pretend  that  he  couldn't  keep  his  teeth  from  chattering, 
whenever  mention  was  made  of  an  Alguazil  in  connexion  with 
the  adventures  of  Gil  Bias ;  and  I  remember,  when  Gil  Bias  met 
the  captain  of  the '  robbej's  in  Madrid,  this  unlucky  joker  counter- 
feited such  an  ague  of  terror,  that  he  was  overheard  by  Mr.  Creakje, 
who  was  prowling  about  the  passage,  and  handsomely  flogged  for 
disorderly  conduct  in  the  bedroom. 

Whatever  I  had  within  me  that  was  romantic  and  dreamy,  was 
encouraged  by  so  much  story-telHng  in  the  dark ;  and  in  that  re- 
spect the  pursuit  may  not  have  been  very  profitable  to  me.  But 
the  being  cherished  as  a  kind  of  plaything  in  my  room,  and  the  con- 
sciousness that  this  accomplishment  of  mine  was  bruited  about 
among  the  boys,  and  attracted  a  good  deal  of  notice  to  mo  though 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  131 

f  was  the  youngest  there,  stimulated  nie  to  exertion.  In  a  school 
carried  on  by  sheer  cruelty,  whether  it  is  presided  o\'er  by  a  dunce 
or  not,  there  is  not  likely  to  be  much  learnt.  I  believe  our  boys 
were,  generally,  as  ignorant  a  set  as  any  schoolboys  in  existence ; 
they  were  too  much  troubled  and  knocked  about  to  learn  ;  they 
could  no  more  do  that  to  advantage,  than  any  one  can  do  anything 
to  advantage  in  a  hfe  of  constant  misfortune,  torment,  and  worry. 
But  my  httle  vanity,  and  Steerforth's  help,  urged  me  on  somehow  ; 
and  without  saving  me  from  much,  if  anything,  in  the  way  of  * 
punishment,  made  me,  for  the  time  I  was  there,  an  exception  to  the 
general  body,  insomuch  that  I  did  steadily  pick  up  some  crumbs  of 
knowledge. 

In  tliis  I  was  much  assisted  by  Mr.  Mell,  who  had  a  liking  for  me 
that  I  am  grateful  to  remember.  It  always  gave  me  pain  to  ob- 
serve that  Steerforth  treated  him  vnth.  systematic  disparagement,  and 
seldom  lost  an  occasion  of  woundinof  his  feelino^s,  or  inducing^  othera 
to  do  so.  This  troubled  me  the  more  for  a  long  time,  because  I  had 
soon  told  Steerforth,  from  whom  I  could  no  more  keep  such  a 
secret  than  I  could  keep  a  cake  or  any  other  tangible  pos- 
session, about  the  two  old  women  Mr.  Mell  had  taken  me  to  see  ; 
and  I  was  always  afraid  that  Steerforth  would  let  it  out,  and  twdt 
him  with  it. 

We  little  thought  any  one  of  us,  I  dare  say,  when  I  ate  my 
breakfast  that  first  morning,  and  went  to  sleep  under  the  shadow  of 
the  peacock's  feathers  to  the  sound  of  the  flute,  what  consequences 
would  come  of  the  introduction  into  those  alms-houses  of  my  insig- 
nificant person.  But  the  visit  had  its  unforeseen  consequences ;  and 
of  a  serious  sort,  too,  in  their  way. 

One  day  when  Mr.  Creakle  kept  the  he  use  from  indisposition, 
which  naturally  difi'used  a  lively  joy  through  the  school,  there  was  a 
good  deal  of  noise  in  the  course  of  the  morning's  work.  The  great 
relief  and  satisfaction  experienced  by  the  boys  made  them  difficult 
to  manage ;  and  though  the  dreaded  Tungay  brought  his  wooden 
leg  in  twice  or  thrice,  and  took  notes  of  the  principal  offenders' 
names,  no  great  impression  was  made  by  it,  as  they  were  pretty  sure 
of  getting  into  trouble  to-morrow  do  what  they  would,  and  thought 
it  wise,  no  doul;t,  to  enjoy  themselves  to-day. 

It  was,  properly,  a  half-hohday  ;  being  Saturday.     But  as  the 


132  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

noise  in  the  playground  would  have  disturbed  Mr.  Creakle,  and  the 
weatlier  was  not  favorable  for  going  out  walking,  we  were  ordered 
into  school  in  the  afternoon,  and  set  some  lighter  tasks  than  usual, 
which  were  made  for  the  occasion.  It  was  the  day  of  the  week  on 
which  Mr.  Sharp  went  out  to  get  his  wig  curled  ;  so  Mr.  Mell,  who 
always  did  the  drudgery,  Avhatever  it  was,  kept  school  by  himself. 

If  I  could  associate  the  idea  of  a  bull  or  a  bear  with  any  one  so 
mild  as  Mr.  Mell,  I  should  think  of  him,  in  connexion  with  that 
afternoon  when  the  uproar  was  at  its  height,  as  one  of  those  animals, 
baited  by  a  thousand  dog-s.  I  recall  him  bending  his  aching  head, 
supported  on  his  bony  hand,  over  the  book  on  his  desk,  and  wretch- 
edly endeavoring  to  got  on  with  his  tiresome  work,  amidst  an  up- 
roar that  might  have  made  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Commons 
giddy.  Boys  started  in  and  out  of  their  places,  playing  at  puss  in 
the  corner  with  other  boys  ;  there  were  laughing  boys,  singing  boys, 
talking  boys,  dancing  boys,  howling  boys  ;  boys  shuffled  with  their 
feet,  bovs  whirled  about  him,  grinning,  making  faces,  mim'icking  hira 
behind  his  back  and  before  his  eyes ;  mimicking  his  poverty,  his 
boots,  his  coat,  his  mother,  eveiything  belonging  to  him  that  they 
should  have  had  consideration  for. 

"  Silence !"  cried  Mr.  Mell,  suddenly  rising  up,  and  striking  his 
desk  with  the  book.  "  What  does  this  mean !  It's  impossible 
to  bear  it.     It's  maddening.     How  can  you  do  it  to  me,  boys  ?" 

It  was  my  book  that  he  struck  his  desk  with ;  and  as  I  stood 
beside  him,  following  his  eye  as  it  glanced  round  the  room,  I  saw 
the  boys  all  stop,  some  suddenly  surprised,  some  half  afraid,  and 
some  sorry  perhaps. 

Steerforth's  place  was  at  the  bottom  of  the  school,  at  the  opposite 
end  of  the  lono-  room.  He  was  lounging  vnth  his  back  against  the 
wall,  and  his  hands  in  his  pockets,  and  looked  at  Mr.  Mell  vnth  his 
mouth  shut  up  as  if  he  were  whistling,  when  Mr.  Mell  looked  at 
him. 

"  Silence,  Mr.  Steerforth  !"  said  Mr.  Mell. 

"  Silence  yourself,"  said  Steerforth,  turning  red.  "  Whom  are  you 
talking  to  ?" 

"  Sit  down,"  said  Mr.  Mell. 

"  Sit  down  yourself,"  said  Steerforth,  "  «n-d  mind  your  business." 

There  was  a  titter,  and  some  applause ;    but  Mr.  Mell  was  bo 


,7 


-}=?. 


0^   "^'^c   \\Jl>^^^^ 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  183 

white,  tbat  silence  immediately  succeeded ;  and  one  boy,  who  had 
darted  out  behind  him  to  imitate  his  mother  again,  changed  hia 
mind,  and  pretended  to  want  a  pen  mended. 

"  If  you  think,  Steerforth,"  said  Mr.  Mell,  "  that  I  am  not  ac- 
quainted with  the  power  you  can  establish  over  any  mind  here"— • 
ha  laid  his  hand,  without  considering  what  he  did  (as  I  supposed), 
upon  my  head — "  or  that  I  have  not  observed  you,  within  a  few 
minutes,  urging  your  juniors  on  to  every  sort  of  outrage  against  me, 
you  are  mistaken." 

"  I  don't  give  myself  the  trouble  of  thinking  at  all  about  you,'* 
eaid  Steerforth,  coolly  ;  "  so  I  'm  not  mistaken,  as  it  happens." 

"  And  when  you  make  use  of  your  position  of  favoritism  here,  sir," 
pursued  Mr.  Mell,  ^vith  his  hp  trembhng  very  much,  "  to  insult  a 
gentleman — " 

"  A  what  ? — where  is  he  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

Here  somebody  cried  out,  "  Shame,  J.  Steerforth  I  Too  bad !" 
It  was  Traddles  ;  whom  Mr.  Mell  instantly  discomfited  by  bidding 
him  hold  his  tono-ue. 

— "  To  insult  one  who  is  not  fortunate  in  life,  sir,  and  who  nevef 
gave  you  the  least  offence,  and  the  many  reasons  for  not  insulting 
whom  you  are  old  enough  and  wise  enough  to  understand,"  said 
Mr.  Mell,  with  his  Hp  trembhng  more  and  more,  "  you  commit  a 
mean  and  base  action.  You  can  sit  down  or  stand  up  as  you  please, 
sir.     Copperfield,  go  on." 

"  Yaung  Copperfield,"  said  Steerforth,  coming  forward  up  the 
room,  "  stop  a  bit.  I  tell  you  what,  Mr.  Mell,  once  for  all.  When 
you  take  the  libertjr  of  calling  me  mean  or  base,  or  anything  of  that 
Bort,  you  are  an  impudent  beggar.  You  are  always  a  beggar,  you 
know  ;  but  when  you  do  that,  you  are  an  impudent  beggar." 

I  am  not  clear  whether  he  was  going  to  strike  Mr.  Mell,  or  Mr. 
Mell  was  going  to  strike  him,  or  there  was  any  such  intention  on 
either  side.  I  saw  a  rigidity  come  upon  the  whole  school  as  if  they 
had  been  turned  into  stone,  and  found  Mr.  Creakle  in  the  midst  of 
us,  with  Tungay  at  his  side,  and  Mrs.  and  Miss  Creakle  looking  in 
at  the  door  as  if  they  were  frightened.  Mr.  Mell,  with  his  elbows 
on  his  desk  and  his  face  in  his  hands,  sat,  for  some  moments,  quite 
Btill. 

"  Mr.  Mell,"  said  Mr.  Cieakle,  shaking  hira  by  the  arm  ;  and  hia 


134  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

wliisper  was  so  audible  now,  tliat  Tungay  felt  it  unnecessary  to  re* 
peat  his  words ;  "  you  have  not  forgotten  yourself,  I  hope  ?" 

"  No,  sir,  no,"  returned  the  Master,  showing  his  face,  and  shaking 
his  head,  and  rubbing  his  hands  in  great  agitation.  "  No,  sir.  No. 
I  have  remembered  myself  I — no,  Mr.  Creakle,  I  have  not  forgotten 
myself^  I — I  have  renjembered  myself,  sir.  I — I — could  wish  you 
had  remembered  me  a  httle  sooner,  Mr.  Creakle.  It — ^it  would  have 
been  more  kind,  sir,  more  just,  sir.  It  would  have  saved  me  some- 
thinor  sir." 

Mr.  Creakle,  looking  hard  at  Mr.  Mell,  put  his  hand  on  Tungay's 
shoulder,  and  got  his  feet  upon  the  form  close  by,  and  sat  upon  the 
desk.  After  still  looking  hard  at  Mr.  ISIell  from  his  throne,  as  he 
shook  his  head,  and  rubbed  his  hands,  and  remained  in  the  same 
state  of  agitation,  Mr.  Creakle  turned  to  Mr.  Steerforth,  and  said : 

"  Now,  sir,  as  he  don't  condescend  to  tell  me,  what  is  this  ?" 

Steerfortli  evaded  the  question  for  a  little  while ;  looking  in  scorn 
and  anger  on  his  opponent,  and  remaining  silent.  I  could  not  help 
thinking  even  in  that  interv^al,  I  remember,  what  a  noble  fellow  ha 
was  in  appearance,  and  how  homely  and  plain  Mr.  Mell  looked  op- 
posed to  him. 

"  What  did  he  mean  by  talking  about  favorites,  then !"  said  Steer 
forth  at  length. 

"  Favorites  ?"  repeated  Mr.  Creakle,  with  the  veins  in  his  forehead 
swelling  quickly.     "  Who  talked  about  favorite  ?" 

"  He  did,"  said  Steerforth. 

"  And  pray,  what  did  you  mean  by  that,  sir  ?"  demanded  Mr. 
Creakle,  turning  angrily  on  his  assistant. 

"  I  meant,  Mr.  Creakle,"  he  returned  in  a  low  voice,  "  as  I  said  ; 
that  no  pupil  had  a  right  to  avail  himself  of  his  position  of  favoritism 
to  deorrade  me." 

"  To  degrade  yow  f  said  Mr.  Creakle.  "  My  stars  !  But  give 
me  leave  to  ask  you,  Mr.  "What's-your-name  ;"  and  here  Mr.  Creakle 
folded  his  arms,  cane  and  all,  upon  his  chest,  and  made  such  a  knot 
of  his  brows  that  his  httle  eyes  were  hardly  visible  below  them  ; 
"  whether,  when  you  talked  about  favorites,  you  showed  proper  respect 
to  me  ?  To  me,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Creakle,  darting  his  head  at  him  sud- 
denly, and  drawing  it  back  again,  "  the  principa  of  this  establish- 
ment, ;md  your  employer." 


J)AVID    COPPERFIELD.  185 

**It  was  not  judicious,  sir,  I  am  willing  to  admit,"  said  Mr.  Mell, 
**  I  should  not  have  done  so,  if  I  had  been  cool." 

Here  Steeiforth  struck  in. 

"  Then  he  said  I  was  mean,  and  then  he  said  I  was  base,  and  then 
1  called  him  a  beggar.  If  /  had  been  cool  perhaps  I  shouldn't  have 
called  him  a  beggar.  But  I  did,  and  I  am  ready  to  take  the  con- 
sequences of  it." 

Without  considering,  perhaps,  whether  there  were  any  conse- 
quences to  be  taken,  I  felt  quite  in  a  glow  at  this  gallant  speech.  It 
made  an  impression  on  the  boys  too,  for  there  was  a  low  stir  among 
them,  though  no  one  spoke  a  word. 

"I  am  surprised,  Steerforth — although  your  candor  does  you 
honor,"  said  Mr.  Creakle,  "  does  you  honor,  certainly — I  am  sur- 
prised, Steerforth,  I  must  say,  that  you  should  attach  such  an  epithet 
to  any  person  employed  and  paid  in  Salem  House,  sir." 

Steerforth  gave  a  short  laugh. 

"  That's  not  an  answer,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Creakle,  "  to  my  remark.  I 
expect  more  than  that  from  you,  Steerforth." 

If  Mr.  Mell  looked  homely,  in  my  eyes,  before  the  handsome  boy, 
it  would  be  quite  impossible  to  say  how  homely  Mr.  Creakle  looked. 

"  Let  him  deny  it,"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Deny  that  he  is  a  beggar,  Steerforth  ?"  cried  Mr.  Creakle.  "  Why, 
where  does  he  go  a  begging  ?" 

"  If  he  is  not  a  beggar  himself  his  near  relation's  one,"  said  Steer- 
/orth.     "  It's  all  the  same." 

He  glanced  at  me,  and  Mr.  Mell's  hand  gently  patted  me  upon 
the  shoulder.     I  looked  up,  with  a  flush  upon  my  face  and  remorse 
in  my  heart,  but  Mr.  MelPs  eyes  were  fixed  on  Steerforth.     He  con 
tinned  to  pat  me  kindly  on  the  shoulder,  but  he  looked  at  him. 

"  Since  you  expect  me,  Mr.  Creakle,  to  justify  myself,"  said  Steer- 
forth, "  and  to  say  what  I  mean, — what  I  have  to  say  is,  that  his 
mother  lives  on  charity  in  an  alms-house." 

Mr.  Mell  still  looked  at  him,  and  still  patted  me  kindly  on  the 
shoulder,  and  said  to  himself,  in  a  whisper,  if  I  heard  right :  "  Yes,  I 
thought  so." 

Mr.  Creakle  turned  to  his  assistant,  with  a  severe  frown  and  labor- 
ed politeness. 

"  Now,  you  hear  what  this  gentleman  says,  Mr   Mell.     Haxe  the 


13(3  L'AVID     COPPEIIFIELD." 

goodness,  if  you  please,  to  set  liini  right  before  the  assembled 
school." 

"  He  is  right,  sir,  -without  correction,"  returned  Mr.  Mell,  in  the 
midst  of  a  dead  silence  ;  "  what  he  has  said.  Is  true '' 

"  Be  so  good  then  as  declare  pubhcly,  will  you,"  said  Mr.  Creakle, 
putting  his  head  on  one  side,  and  rolling  his  eyes  round  the  school, 
"  whether  it  ever  came  to  my  knowledge  until  this  moment  ?" 

"  I  believe  not  directly,"  he  returned. 

"  Why,  you  know  not,"  said  Mr.  Creakle.     "  Don't  you,  man  ?" 

"  I  apprehend  you  never  supposed  my  worldly  circumstances  to  be 
very  good,"  replied  the  assistant.  "  You  know  what  my  position  is, 
and  always  has  been,  here." 

"  I  apprehend,  if  you  come  to  that,"  said  Mr.  Creakle,  with  his 
veins  swelhng  again  bigger  than  ever,  "that  you've  been  in  a 
wrong  position  altogether,  and  mistook  this  for  a  charity  school.  Mr. 
Mell,  we'll  part  if  you  please.     The  sooner  the  better." 

"  There  is  no  time,"  answered  Mr.  Mell,  rising,  "  like  the  present." 

"  Sir,  to  you  !"  said  Mr.  Creakle. 

"I  take  my  leave  of  you.  Mr.  Creakle,  and  of  all  of  you,"  said  Mr. 
Mell,  glancing  round  the  room,  and  again  patting  me  gently  on  tlie 
shoulder.  "  James  Steerforth,  the  best  wish  I  can  leave  you  is  that 
you  may  come  to  be  ashamed  erf  what  you  have  done  to-day.  At 
present  I  would  prefer  to  see  you  anything  rather  than  a  friend,  to 
me,  or  to  any  one  in  whom  I  feel  an  interest." 

Once  more  he  laid  his  hand  upon  my  shoulder,  and  then  taking 
his  flute  and  a  few  books  fi'om  his  desk,  and  leaving  the  key  in  it  for 
his  successor,  he  went  out  of  the  school,  with  his  property  under  his 
arm.  Mr.  Creakle  then  made  a  speech,  through  Tungay,  in  which 
he  thanked  Steerforth  for  asserting  (though  perhaps  too  warmly)  the 
independence  and  respectability  of  Salem  House  ;  and  which  he 
wound  up  by  shaking  hands  with  Steerforth,  while  we  gave  three 
cheere — I  did  not  quite  know  what  for,  but  I  supposed  for  Steerforth, 
and  so  joined  in  them  ardently,  though  I  felt  miserable.  Mr.  Creakle 
then  caned  Tommy  Traddles  for  being  discovered  in  tears,  instead  of 
cheers,  on  account  of  Mr.  INIell's  departure  ;  and  went  back  to  his 
sofa,  or  his  bed,  or  wherever  he  had  come  fi'om. 

We  were  left  to  ourselves  now,  and  looked  very  blank,  I  recollect, 
on  one  another.     For  myself,  I  felt  so  much  self-reproach  and  coiitii' 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  187 

tion  for  my  part  in  what  had  happened,  that  nothing  would  have 
enabled  me  to  keep  back  my  tears  but  the  fear  that  Steerforth,  who 
often  looked  at  me,  I  saw,  might  think  it  unfiiendly — or,  I  should 
rather  say,  considering  our  relative  ages,  and  the  feeling  with  which 
I  regarded  him,  undutiful — if  I  showed  the  emotion  which  distressed 
me.  He  was  very  angry  with  Traddles,  and  said  he  was  glad  he  had 
caught  it. 

Poor  Traddles,  who  had  passed  the  stage  of  lying  with  his  head 
upon  the  desk,  and  was  relieving  himself  as  usual  with  a  burst  of 
skeletons,  said  he  didn't  care.     Mr.  Mell  was  ill-used. 

"  Who  has  ill-used  him,  you  girl  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Why,  you  have,"  returned  Traddles. 

"  What  have  I  done  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  What  have  you  done  ?"  retorted  Traddles.  "  Hurt  his  feehngs, 
and  lost  him  his  situation." 

"  His  feelings !"  repeated  Steerforth  disdainfully.  "  His  feelings 
will  soon  get  the  better  of  it,  I'll  be  bound.  His  feelings  are  not  like 
yours,  Miss  Traddles.  As  to  his  situation — which  was  a  precious 
one,  wasn't  it  ? — do  you  suppose  I  am  not  going  to  write  home,  and 
take  care  that  he  gets  some  money  ?  Polly  ?" 

We  thought  this  intention  very  noble  in  Steerforth,  whose  mother 
was  a  widow,  and  rich,  and  would  do  almost  anything,  it  was  said, 
that  he  asked  her.  We  were  all  extremely  glad  to  see  Traddles  so 
put  down,  and  exalted  Steerforth  to  the  skies :  especially  when  he 
told  us,  as  he  condescended  to  do,  that  what  he  had  done  had  been 
done  expressly  for  us,  and  for  our  cause ;  and  that  he  had  conferred 
a  great  boon  upon  us  by  unselfishly  doing  it. 

But  I  must  say  that  when  I  was  going  on  with  a  story  in  the 
dark  that  night,  Mr.  Mell's  old  flute  seemed  more  than  once  to 
sound  mournfully  in  my  ears ;  and  that  when  at  last  Steerforth  was 
tired,  and  I  lay  down  in  my  bed,  I  fancied  it  playing  so  sorrowfully 
somewhere,  that  I  was  quite  wretched. 

I  soon  forgot  him  in  the  contemplation  of  Steerforth,  who,  in  an 
easy  amateur  way,  and  without  any  book  (he  seemed  to  me  to  know 
everything  by  heart),  took  some  of  his  classes  until  a  new  master 
waa  found.  The  new  master  came  from  a  grammar-school ;  and  before 
ho  entered  on  his  duties,  dined  in  the  parlor  one  day  to  be  intro- 


138  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

duced  to  Steerfortli.  Steerforth  approved  of  him  highly,  and  told 
us  he  was  a  Brick.  Without  exactly  understanding  what  learned 
distinction  was  meant  by  this,  I  respected  him  greatly  for  it,  and 
had  no  doubt  whatever  of  his  superior  knowledge  :  though  he  never 
took  the  pains  with  me — not  that  I  was  anybody — that  Mr.  Mell 
had  taken. 

There  was  only  one  other  event  in  this  half-year,  out  of  the  daily 
school-hfe,  that  made  an  impression  on  me  which  still  survives.  It 
survives  for  many  reasons. 

One  afternoon  when  we  were  all  harassed  into  a  state  of  dire 
confusion,  and  Mr.  Creakle  was  laying  about  him  dreadfully,  Tungay 
came  in,  and  called  out  in  his  usual  strong  way :  "  Visitors  for 
Copperfield !" 

A  few  words  were  interchanged  between  him  and  Mr.  Creakle,  as, 
who  the  \isitors  were,  and  what  room  they  were  to  be  shown  into  ; 
and  then  I,  who  had,  according  to  custom,  stood  up  on  the  an- 
nouncement being  made,  and  felt  quite  faint  vnth.  astonishment,  was 
told  to  go  by  the  back  stairs  and  get  a  clean  frill  on,  before  I  re- 
paired to  the  dining-room.  These  orders  T  obeyed,  in  such  a  flutter 
and  hurry  of  my  young  spirits  as  I  had  never  known  before  ;  and 
when  I  got  to  the  parlor-door,  and  the  thought  came  into  my  head 
that  it  might  be  my  mother — I  had  only  thought  of  Mr.  or  Miss 
Murdstone  until  then — I  drew  back  my  hand  from  the  lock,  and 
stopped  to  have  a  sob  before  I  went  in. 

At  first  I  saw  nobody ;  but  feeling  a  pressure  against  the  door,  I 
looked  round  it,  and  there,  to  my  amazement,  were  Mr.  Peggotty 
and  Ham,  ducking  at  me  -wath  their  hats,  and  squeezing  one 
another  against  the  wall.  I  could  not  help  laughing ;  but  it  was 
much  more  in  the  pleasure  of  seeing  them,  than  at, the  appearance 
they  made.  We  shook  hands  in  a  very  cordial  way ;  and  I  laughed 
and  laughed,  until  I  pulled  out  my  pocket-handkerchief  and  wiped 
my  eyes. 

Mr.  Peggotty  (who  never  shut  his  mouth  once,  I  remember, 
during  the  visit)  showed  great  concern  when  he  saw  me  do  this,  and 
nudged  Ham  to  say  something. 

"  Cheer  up,  Mas'r  Dav}^,  bo' !"  said  Ham,  in  his  simpering  way. 
**  Why,  how  you  have  growed  !" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  139 

"Am  I  groAvn?"  I  said,  drying  my  eyes.  I  wis  not  crying^  at 
anj'lhing  particular  that  I  know  of ;  but  somehow  it  made  me  crv 
to  see  old  friends. 

"  Growed,  Mas'r  Davy,  bo'  ?     Ain't  he  gi'owed  ?"  said  Ham. 

"  Ain't  he  growed  !"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

Tliey  made  me  laugh  again  by  laughing  at  each  other,  and  then 
we  all  three  laughed  until  I  was  in  danger  of  crying  again. 

"  Do  you  know  how  mama  is,  Mr.  Peggotty  ?"  I  said.  "And 
how  my  dear,  dear,  old  Peggotty  is  ?" 

"  Oncommon,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  And  httle  Em'ly,  and  Mrs.  Gummidge  ?" 

"  On — common,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

There  was  a  silence.  Mr.  Peggotty,  to  relieve  it,  took  two  pio- 
digious  lobsters,  and  an  enormous  crab,  and  a  large  canvas  hn^  of 
shrimps,  out  of  his  pockets,  and  piled  them  up  in  Ham's  arms. 

"  You  see,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  "  knoA\ing  as  you  was  partial  to  a 
little  rehsh  with  your  wittles  when  you  was  along  with  us,  we  took 
the  liberty.  The  old  Mawther  biled  'em,  she  did.  Mrs.  Gummidge 
biled  'em.  Yes,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty  slowly,  who  I  thought  appeared 
to  stick  to  the  subject  on  account  of  having  no  other  subject  ready, 
"  Mrs.  Gummidge,  I  do  assure  you,  she  biled  'em." 

I  expressed  my  thanks  ;  and  Mr.  Peggotty,  after  looking  at  Ham, 
who  stood  smiling  sheepishly  over  the  shell-fish,  without  making 
any  attempt  to  help  him,  said : 

"  We  come,  you  see,  the  wind  and  tide  making  in  our  favour,  in 
one  of  our  Yarmouth  lugs  to  Gravesen'.  My  sister  she  wrote  to  me^ 
the  name  of  this  here  place,  and  wrote  to  me  as  if  ever  I  chanced  to 
come  to  Gravesen',  I  was  to  come  over  and  enquire  for  Mas'r  Davy 
and  give  her  dooty,  humbly  wishing  him  well  and  reporting  of  the 
fam'ly  as  they  was  oncommon  to-be-sure.  Little  Em'ly,  you  see, 
she'll  write  to  my  sister  when  I  go  back,  as  I  see  you  and  as  you 
was  similarly  oncommon,  and  90  we  make  it  quite  a  merry-go- 
rounder." 

I  was  obliged  to  consider  a  little  before  I  understood  what  Mr. 
Peggotty  meant  by  this  figure,  expressive  of  a  complete  circle  of 
intelligence.  I  then  thanked  him  heartily ;  and  said,  with  a  con- 
sciousness of  reddening,  that  I  supposed  little  Em'ly  was  altered  too» 
since  we  used  to  pick  up  shells  and  pebbles  on  the  beach  ? 


140  DAVID    COl^PERFIELD. 

"  She's  getting  to  be  a  woman,  that's  wot's  she's  getting  to  be," 
said  Mr.  Peggotty.     "  Ask  him." 

He  meant  Ham,  who  beamed  with  delight  and  assent  over  the 
bag  of  shrimps. 

"  Her  pretty  face  !"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  with  his  own  shining  hke 
a  hght. 

"  Her  learning  !"  said  Ham. 

"  Her  writing  !"  said  Mr.  Peggotty.  "  Why,  it's  as  black  as  jet  \ 
And  so  large  it  is,  you"  might  see  it  anywheres." 

It  was  perfectly  delightful  to  behold  \vith  what  enthusiasm  Mr. 
Peggotty  became  inspired  when  he  thought  of  his  little  favorite. 
He  stands  before  me  again,  his  bluflP  hairy  face  iiTadiating  with  a 
joyful  love  and  pride,  for  which  I  can  find  no  description.  His 
honest  eyes  fire  up,  and  sparkle,  as  if  their  depths  were  stirred  by 
something  bright.  His  broad  chest  heaves  with  pleasure.  His 
strong  loose  hands  clench  themselves,  in  his  earnestness  ;  and  he 
emphasises  what  he  says  with  a  right  arm  that  shows,  in  my  pigmy 
view,  like  a  sledjjre  hammer. 

Ham  was  quite  as  earnest  as  he.  I  dare  say  they  would  have 
said  much  more  about  her,  if  they  had  not  been  abashed  by  tie 
unexpected  coming  in  of  Steerforth,  who,  seeing  me  in  a  corner 
speaking  with  two  strangei*s,  stopped  in  a  song  he  was  singing,  and 
said :  "  I  didn't  know  you  were  here,  young  Copperfield !"  (for  it 
was  not  the  usual  \'isiting  room),  and  crossed  by  us  on  his  way 
out. 

I  am  not  sure  whether  it  was  in  the  pride  of  having  such  a  friend 
as  Steerforth,  or  in  the  desire  to  explain  to  him  how  I  came  to  have 
such  a  friend  as  Mr.  Peggotty,  thit  I  called  to  him  as  he  was  going 
away.  But  I  said,  modestly — Good  Heaven,  how  it  all  comes  back 
to  me  this  long  time  afterwards  ! — 

"  Don't  go,  Steerforth,  if  you  please.  These  are  two  Yarmouth 
boatmen — very  kind,  good  people — who  are  relations  of  my  nurse, 
and  have  come  from  Gravesend  to  see  me." 

"  Aye,  aye  ?"  said  Steerforth,  returning.  "  I  am  glad  to  see  them. 
How  are  ye  both  ?" 

There  was  an  ease  in  his  manner — a  gay  and  hght  manner  it 
was,  but  not  swaggering — which  I  still  believe  to  have  borne  a  kind 
of  enchantment  with   it.     T  still  beheve  him,  in  virtue  of  this  car- 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  141 

riage,  his  animal  spirits,  his  delightful  voice^  his  handsome  face  and 
figure,  and,  for  aught  I  know,  of  some  inborn  power  of  attraction 
besides  (which  I  think  a  few  people  possess),  to  have  carried  a  spell 
with  him  to  wliich  it  was  a  natural  weakness  to  yield,  and  which 
not  many  persons  could  withstand.  I  could  not  but  see  how  pleased 
they  were  with  him,  and  how  they  seemed  to  open  their  hearts  to 
him  in  a  moment. 

"  You  must  let  them  know  at  home,  if  you  please,  Mr.  Peg- 
gotty,"  I  said,  "  when  that  letter  is  sent,  that  Mr.  Steerforth  is  very 
kind  to  me,  and  that  I  don't  know  what  I  should  ever  do  here  with- 
out him." 

"  Nonsense  !"  said  Steerforth,  laughing,  "  You  mustn't  tell  them 
anything  of  the  sort." 

"  And  if^  Mr.  Steerforth  ever  comes  into  Norfolk  or  Suffolk,  Mr. 
Peggotty,"  I  said,  "  while  I  am  there,  you  may  depend  upon  it  I 
shall  bring  him  to  Yarmouth,  if  he  will  let  me,  to  see  your  house. 
You  never  saw  such  a  good  house,  Steerforth.  It 's  made  out  of  a 
boat." 

"  Made  out  of  a  boat,  is  it  ?"  said  Steerforth.  "  It 's  the  right 
sort  of  house  for  such  a  thorough-built  boatman." 

"  So  'tis,  sir,  so  'tis,  sir,"  said  Ham,  grinning.  "  You  're  right, 
young  gen'lm'n.  Mas'r  Davy  bo',  gen'lm'n  's  right.  A  thorough- 
built  boatman  !     Hor,  hor  !     That 's  what  he  is,  too  !" 

Mr.  Peggotty  was  no  less  pleased  than  his  nephew,  though  his 
modesty  forbade  him  to  claim  a  personal  compliment  so  vocife- 
rously. 

"  Well,  sir,"  he  said,  bovidng  and  chuckhng,  and  tucking  in  the 
ends  of  his  neckerchief  at  his  breast,  "  I  thankee,  sir,  I  thankee !  T 
do  my  endeavours  in  my  line  of  hfe,  sir." 

"  The  best  of  men  can  do  no  more,  Mr.  Peggotty,"  said  Steer- 
forth.    He  had  got  his  name  already. 

"  I  '11  pound  it,  it 's  wot  you  do  yourself,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty, 
shaking  his  head,  "  and  wot  you  do  well — right  well !  I  thankee, 
sir.  I  'm  obleeged  to  you,  sir,  for  your  welcoming  manner  of  me. 
I  'm  rough,  sir,  but  I  'm  ready — least  ways,  I  hope^  I  'm  ready,  you 
understand.  My  house  ain't  much  for  to  see,  sir,  but  it 's  hearty  at 
your  ser%nce  if  ever  you  should  come  along  with  Mas'r  Davy  to  see 
it.     I  'm  a  reg'lar  Dodman,  I  am,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty  ;  by  which  he 


142  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

meant  snail,  and  this  was  in  allusion  to  his  being  slow  to  go,  for  he 
had  attempted  to  go  after  every  sentence,  and  had  somehow  or  other 
come  back  again ;  "  but  I  wish  you  both  well,  and  I  wash  you  happy  !" 

Ham  echoed,  this  sentiment,  and  we  parted  with  them  in  the 
heartiest  manner.  I  was  almost  tempted  that  evening  to  tell 
Steerforth  about  pretty  Em'ly,  but  I  was  too  timid  of  mentioning 
her  name,  and  too  much  afraid  of  liis  laughing  at  me.  I  remember 
that  I  thought  a  good  deal,  and  in  an  uneasy  sort  of  way,  about  Mr. 
Peggotty  hanng  said  that  she  was  getting  on  to  be  a  woman ;  but 
I  decided  that  was  nonsense. 

We  transported  the  shell-fish,  or  the  "  relish"  as  Mr.  Peggotty 
modestly  called  it,  up  into  our  room  unobserved,  and  made  a  great 
supper  that  evening.,  But  Traddles  couldn't  get  happily  out  of  it. 
He  was  too  unfortunate  even  to  come  through  a  supper  hke  anybody 
else.  He  was  taken  ill  in  the  night — quite  prostrate  he  was — in 
consequence  of  Crab ;  and  after  being  drugged  with  black  draughts 
and  blue  pills,  to  an  extent  which  Demple  (whose  father  was 
a  doctor)  said  was  enough  to  undermine  a  horse's  constitution, 
received  a  caning  and  six  chapters  of  Greek  Testament  for  refusing 
to  confess. 

The  rest  of  the  half-year  is  a  jumble  in  my  recollection  of  the 
daily  stnfe  and  struggle  of  our  lives ;  of  the  waning  summer  and 
the  changuig  season ;  of  the  frosty  mornings  when  we  were  rung 
out  of  bed,  and  the  cold,  cold  smell  of  the  dark  nights  when  we 
were  rung  into  bed  again ;  of  the  evening  schoolroom  dimly  lighted 
and  indifferently  warmed,  and  the  morning  schoolroom  which  was 
nothing  but  a  great  shivering-machine ;  of  the  alternation  of  boiled 
beef  with  roast  beef,  and  boiled  mutton  with  roast  mutton ;  of  clods 
of  bread-and-butter,  dog's-eared  lesson-books,  cracked  slates,  tear- 
blotted  copy-books,  canings,  rulerings,  hair-cuttings,  rainy  Sundays, 
suet  puddings,  and  a  dirty  atmosphere  of  ink  surrounding  all. 

I  well  remember  though,  how  the  distant  idea  of  the  holidays, 
after  seeming  for  an  immense  time  to  be  a  stationary  speck,  began 
to  come  towards  us,  and  to  grow  and  grow.  How,  from*  counting 
months,  we  came  to  weeks,  and  then  to  days;  and  how  I  then 
began  to  be  afraid  that  I  should  not  be  sent  for,  and,  when  I  learned 
from  Steerforth  that  I  had  been  Svint  for  apd  was  certainly  to  go 
home,  had  dim  forebodings  that  I  might  break  my  leg  first.     How 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  143 

the  breaking-up  day  clianged  its  place  fast,  at  last,  from  tlie  week 
after  next  to  next  week,  this  week,  the  day  after  to-morrow,  to-mor- 
row, to-day,  to-night — when  I  was  inside  the  Yarmouth  mail,  and 
going  home. 

I  had  many  a  broken  sleep  inside  the  Yarmouth  mail,  and  many 
an  incoherent  di"eam  of  all  these  things.  But  when  I  awoke  at 
intervals,  the  ground  outside  the  window  was  not  the  playground 
of  Salem  House,  and  the  sound  in  my  ears  was  not  the  sound  of 
Mr.  Greakle  gi^^ng  it  to  '^^addles,  but  the  sound  of  the  ccachmau 
touchuig  up  the  horses. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

MY   HOLIDAYS.      ESPECIALLY    ONE    HAPPY    AFTERNOON. 

When  we  arrived  before  day  at  tlie  inn  wliere  tlie  mail  stopped, 
wliicli  was  not  the  inn  wliere  my  friend  the  waiter  lived,  I  was 
shown  up  to  a  nice  little  bedroom,  with  Dolphin  painted  on  the 
door.  Very  cold  I  was  I  know,  notwithstanding  the  hot  tea  they 
had  given  me  before  a  large  fire  down-stairs  ;  and  very  glad  I  was 
to  turn  into  the  Dolphin's  bed,  pull  the  Dolphin's  blankets  round 
my  head,  and  go  to  sleep. 

Mr.  Barkis  the  carrier  was  to  call  for  me  in  the  morning  at  nine 
o'clock.  I  got  up  at  eight,  a  little  giddy  from  the  shortness  of  my 
night's  rest,  and  was  ready  for  him  before  the  appointed  time.  He 
received  me  exactly  as  if  not  five  minutes  had  elapsed  since  we  were 
last  together,  and  I  had  only  been  into  the  hotel  to  get  change  for 
sixpence,  or  something  of  that  sort. 

As  soon  as  I  and  my  box  were  in  the  cart,  and  the  carrier  sealed, 
the  lazy  horse  walked  away  with  us  all  at  his  accustomed  pace. 

"  You  look  very  well,  Mr.  Barkis,"  I  said,  thinking  he  would  like 
to  know  it. 

Mr.  Barkis  rubbed  his  cheek  with  his  cufF,  and  then  looked  at  his 
cuff  as  if  he  expected  to  find  some  of  the  bloom  upon  it ;  but  made 
no  other  acknowledgment  of  the  compliment. 

"  I  gave  your  message,  Mr.  Barkis,"  I  said ;  "  I  wrote  to 
Peggotty." 

"Ah!"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

Mr.  Barkis  seemed  gruff,  and  answered  drily. 

"  Wasn't  it  right,  Mr.  Barkis  ?"  I  asked,  after  a  httle  hesitation. 

"  Why,  no,"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

"  Not  the  message  ?"" 

"  The  message  was  right  enough,  perhaps,"  said  Mr.  Barkis  ;  "  but 
it  come  to  an  end  there." 

Not  understanding  what  he  meant,  I  repeated  inquisitively :  "  Came 
to  an  end,  Mr.  Barkis  ?" 
144 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  145 

"  Nothing  come  of  it, '  he  explained,  looking  at  me  sideways. 
**  No  answer." 

"  There  was  an  answer  expected,  was  there,  Mr.  Barkis  ?"  said  I, 
opening  my  eyes.     For  this  was  a  new  light  to  me. 

"  When  a  man  says  he's  wilKn',"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  turning  his 
glance  slowly  on  me  again,  "  it's  as  much  as  to  say,  that  man's  a 
waitin'  for  a  answer." 

"  Well,  Mr.  Barkis  ?" 

"  Well,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  carrying  his  eyes  back  to  his  horse's 
ears ;  "  that  man's  been  a  waitin'  for  a  answer  ever  since." 

"  Have  you  told  her  so,  Mr.  Barkis  ?" 

"  N — no,"  growled  Mr.  Barkis,  reflecting  about  it.  "  I  ain't  got 
no  call  to  go  and  tell  her  so.  I  never  said  six  words  to  her  myself. 
/  ain't  a  goin'  to  tell  her  so." 

"  Would  you  like  me  to  do  it,  Mr.  Barkis  ?"  said  I,  doubtfully. 

"  You  might  tell  her  if  you  would,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  with  another 
glow  look  at  me,  "  that  Barkis  was  a  waitin'  for  a  answer.  Says  you 
—what  name  is  it  ?  " 

"  Her  name  ?  " 

"  Ah  !  '*  said  Mr.  Barkis,  with  a  nod  of  his  head. 

"  Peggotty." 

"  Chrisen  name  ?  Or  nat'ral  name  ? "  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

"  Oh,  it's  not  her  christian  name.     Her  christian  n^me  is  Clara." 

"  Is  it  though  !  "  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

He  seemed  to  find  an  immense  fund  of  reflection  in  this  circum- 
stance, and  sat  pondering  and  inwardly  whisthng  for  some  time. 

"  Well !  "  he  resumed  at  length.  "  Says  you,  '  Peggotty  !  Barkis 
is  a  waitin'  for  a  answer.'  Says  she,  perhaps,  '  Answer  to  what  ?  * 
Says  you,  '  To  what  I  told  you.'  '  ^Tiat  is  that  ? '  says  she.  '  Bar- 
kis is  wilhn','  says  you." 

Tliis  extremely  artful  suggestion,  Mr.  Barkis  accompanied  with  a 
nudge  of  his  elbow  that  gave  me  quite  a  stitch  in  my  side.  After 
that,  he  slouched  over  his  horse  in  his  usual  manner ;  and  made  no 
other  reference  to  the  subject  except,  half  an  hour  afterwards,  taking 
a  piece  of  chalk  from  his  pocket,  and  writing  up,  inside  the  tilt  of 
the  cart,  "  Clara  Peggotty  "  —apparently  as  a  private  memorandum. 

Ah,  what  a  strange  feeling  it  was  to  be  going  home  when  it  was 
not  home,  and  to  find  that  eve'  y  object  I  looked  at,  reminded  me  of 
9 


14G  DAVID     COrrERFlELD. 

the  happy  old  home,  which  was  Hke  a  dieam  I  could  never  dream 
Egain !  Ihe  days  when  my  mother  and  I  and  Peggotty  were  all  in 
all  to  one  another,  and  there  was  no  one  to  come  between  us, rose  up 
before  me  so  sorrowfully  on  the  road,  that  I  am  not  sure  I  was  glad 
to  be  there — not  sure  but  that  I  would  rather  have  remained  away, 
and  forgotten  it  in  Steerforth's  company.  But  there  I  was;  and 
soon  I  was  at  our  house,  whei-e  the  bare  old  elm  trees  wrung  their 
many  hands  in  the  bleak  mntry  air,  and  shreds  of  the  old  rooks' 
nests  drifted  away  upon  the  wdnd. 

The  carrier  put  my  box  down  at  the  garden  gate,  and  left  me.  I 
walked  along  the  path  towards  the  house,  glancing  at  the  windows, 
and  fearing  at  every  step  to  see  Mr.  Murdstone  or  Miss  Murdstone  low- 
ering out  of  one  of  them.  No  face  appeared,  however ;  and  being  come 
to  the  house,  and  knowing  how  to  open  the  door,  before  dark,  with- 
out knocking,  I  w^ent  in  with  a  quiet,  timid  step. 

God  knows  how  infantine  the  memory  may  have  been,  that  was 
awakened  within  me  by  the  sound  of  my  mother's  voice  in  the  old 
parlor,  when  I  set  foot  in  the  hall.  She  was  singing  in  a  low  tone. 
I  think  I  must  have  lain  in  her  arms,  and  heard  her  singing  so  to  me 
when  I  was  but  a  baby.  The  strain  was  new  to  me,  and  yet  it  was 
BO  old  that  it  filled  my  heart  brim-full ;  like  a  friend  come  back  from 
a  long  absence. 

I  beheved,  from  the  sohtaiy  and  thoughtful  way  in  which  my  mo- 
ther murmured  her  song,  that  she  was  alone.  And  I  went  softly 
into  the  room.  She  w' as  sitting  by  the  fire,  suckling  an  infant,  whose 
tiny  hand  she  held  against  her  neck.  Her  eyes  were  looking  down 
upon  its  face,  and  she  sat  singing  to  it.  1  was  so  far  right,  that  she 
had  no  other  companion. 

I  spoke  to  her,  and  she  started,  and  cried  out.  But  seeing  me,  she 
called  me  her  dear  Da^y,  her  own  boy  !  and  coming  half  across  the 
room  to  meet  me,  kneeled  down  upon  the  ground  and  kissed  me,  and 
laid  my  head  down  on  her  bosom  near  the  little  creature  that  was 
nestling  there,  and  [»ut  its  hand  up  to  my  lips. 

I  wish  T  had  died.  I  wish  I  had  died  then,  with  that  feeling  in 
ray  heart !  I  should  have  been  more  fit  for  Heaven  than  I  ever  hsixe 
been  since. 

"  He  is  your  brother,"  said  my  mother,  fondling  me.  "  Davy,  my 
pretty  boy !     My  poor  child  !"     Then  she  kissed  me  more  and  more, 


Changes  at  Home. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  147 

Mid  clasped  me  round  the  neck.  Tliis  she  was  doing  when  Peg- 
gotty  came  ruunmg  in,  and  bounced  down  on  the  groimd  beside  us, 
and  went  mad  about  us  both  for  a  quai-ter  of  an  hour. 

It  seemed  that  I  had  not  been  expected  so  soon,  the  carrier  beiniT 
much  before  his  usual  time.  It  seemed,  too,  that  Mr.  and  Miss 
Murdstone  had  gone  out  upon  a  visit  in  the  neighbourhood,  and 
would  not  return  before  night.  I  had  never  hoped  for  this.  I  had 
never  thought  it  possible  that  we  three  could  be  together  undis- 
turbed, once  more ;  and  I  felt,  for  the  time,  as  if  the  old  days  were 
come  back. 

We  dined  together  by  the  fireside.  Peggotty  was  in  attendance 
to  wait  upon  us,  but  my  mother  wouldn't  let  her  do  it,  and  made 
her  dine  with  us.  I  had  my  own  old  plate,  with  a  brown  view  of  a 
man-of-war  in  full  sail  upon  it,  which  Peggotty  had  hoarded  some- 
where all  the  time  I  had  been  away,  and  would  not  have  had  broken, 
she  said,  for  a  hundred  pounds.  I  had  my  own  old  mug  with 
Da\dd  on  it,  and  my  own  old  httle  knife  and  fork  that  wouldn't 
cut. 

While  we  were  at  table,  I  thought  it  a  favorable  occasion  to  tell 
Peggotty  about  Mr.  Barkis,  who,  before  I  had  finished  what  I  had 
to  tell  her,  began  to  laugh,  and  thi-ew  her  apron  over  lier  face. 

"  Peggotty  !"  said  my  mother.     "  What's  the  matter  ?" 

Peggotty  only  laughed  the  more,  and  held  her  apron  tight  over 
her  face  when  my  mother  tried  to  pull  it  away,  and  sat  as  if  her 
head  were  in  a  bag. 

"  What  are  you  doing,  you  stupid  creature  ?"  said  my  mother, 
laughing. 

"  0,  drat  the  man !"  cried  Peggotty.  "  He  wants  to  marry 
me." 

"  It  would  be  a  very  good  match  for  you ;  wouldn't  it  ?"  said  my 
mother. 

"  Oh !  I  don't  know,"  said  Peggotty.  "  Don't  ask  me.  I 
wouldn't  have  him  if  he  was  made  of  gold.  Nor  I  wouldn't  have 
anybody." 

"  Then,  why  don't  you  teU  Kim  so,  you  ridiculous  thing  ?"  said  jny 
mother. 

"  Tell  him  so,"  retorted  Peggotty,  looking  out  of  her  apron.     "  He 


148  DAVID     C  0  P  P  E  R  F  I E  L  D  . 

has  never  said  a  word  to  rae  about  it.     He  knows  better.     If  In; 
was  to  make  so  bold  as  say  a  word  to  me,  I  should  slap  his  face." 

Her  own  was  as  red  as  ever  I  saw  it,  or  any  other  face,  I  think ; 
but  she  only  covered  it  again,  for  a  few  moments  at  a  time,  when  slit 
was  taken  \Ndth  a  \dolent  fit  of  laughter  ;  and  after  two  or  three  of 
those  attacks,  went  on  with  her  dinner. 

I  remarked  that  my  mother,  though  she  smiled  when  Peggotty 
looked  at  her,  became  more  serious  and  thoughtful.  I  had  seen  at 
first  that  she  was  changed.  Her  face  was  very  pretty  still,  but  it 
looked  careworn,  and  too  delicate ;  and  her  hand  was  so  thin  and 
white  that  it  seemed  to  me  to  be  almost  transparent.  But  the  change 
to  which  I  now  refer  was  superadded  to  this  :  it  was  in  her  manner, 
which  became  anxious  and  fluttered.  At  last  she  said,  putting  out 
her  hand,  and  laying  it  affectionately  on  the  hand  of  her  old 
servant, 

"  Peggotty,  dear,  you  are  not  going  to  be  married  ?" 

"Me,  ma'am?"  returned  Peggotty,  staring.  "Lord  bless  you, 
no!" 

"  Not  just  yet  ?"  said  my  mother,  tenderly. 

"  Never  !"  cried  Peggotty. 

My  mother  took  her  hand,  and  said  : 

"  Don't  leave  me,  Peggotty.  Stay  with  me.  It  will  not  be  foi 
long,  perhaps.     What  should  I  ever  do  without  you !" 

"  Me  leave  you,  my  precious  !"  cried  Peggotty.  "  Not  for  all  the 
world  and  his  wife.  Why,  what's  put  that  in  your  silly  httle  head  f 
— For  Peggotty  had  been  used  of  old  to  talk  to  my  mother  some- 
times like  a  child. 

But  my  mother  made  no  answer,  except  to  thank  her,  and  Peg- 
gotty went  running  on  in  her  own  fashion. 

"  Me  leave  you  ?  I  think  I  see  myself.  Peggotty  go  away  from 
you  ?  I  should  hke  to  catch  her  at  it !  No,  no,  no,"  said  Peggotty, 
shaking  her  head,  and  folding  her  arms ;  "  not  she,  my  dear.  It 
isn't  that  there  ain't  some  Cats  that  would  be  well  enough  pleased 
if  she  did,  but  they  shan't  be  pleased.  They  shall  be  aggravated. 
I'll  stay  with  you  till  I  am  a  cross  cranky  old  woman.  And  when 
I'm  too  deaf,  and  too  lame,  and  too  bhnd,  and  too  mumbly  for  want 
of  teeth,  to  be  of  any  use  at  all,  even  to  be  found  fault  with,  then  ] 
Bhall  go  to  my  Davy,  and  ask  him  lo  take  me  in." 


DAVID    COrPERFlELD.  149 

"  And  Peg'gotty,"  says  I,  "  I  shall  Be  glad  to  see  you,  aud  I'D 
make  you  as  welcome  as  a  queen." 

"Bless  your  dear  heart !"  cried  Peggotty.  "  I  know  you  will  i" 
And  she  kissed  me  beforehand,  in  grateful  acknowledgment  of  my 
hospitality.  After  that,  she  covered  her  head  up  with  her  apron 
again,  and  had  another  laugh  about  Mr.  Barkis.  After  that,  she 
took  the  baby  out  of  its  little  cradle,  and  nursed  it.  After  that,  she 
cleared  the  dinner-table  ;  after  that,  she  came  in  with  another  cap  on, 
and  her  work-box,  and  the  yard-measure,  and  the  bit  of  wax  candle, 
ail  just  the  same  as  ever. 

We  sat  round  the  fire,  and  talked  delightfully.  I  told  them  what 
a  hard  master  Mr.  Creakle  was,  and  they  pitied  me  very  much.  I 
told  them  what  a  fine  fellow  Steerforth  was,  and  what  a  patron  of 
mine,  and  Peggotty  said  she  would  walk  a  score  of  miles  to  see  him. 
T  took  the  little  baby  in  my  arms  when  it  was  awake,  and  nui*sed  it 
lovingly.  When  it  was  asleep  again,  I  crept  close  to  my  mother's 
side  according  to  my  old  custom,  broken  now  a  long  time,  and  sat 
with  my  arms  embracing  her  waist,  and  my  little  red  cheek  on  her 
shoulder,  and  once  more  felt  her  beautiful  hair  drooping  over  me — 
like  an  angel's  wing  as  I  used  to  think,  I  recollect — and  was  very 
happy  indeed. 

While  I  sat  thus,  looking  at  the  fire,  and  seeing  pictures  in  the 
red-hot  coals,  I  almost  believed  that  I  had  never  been  away ;  that 
Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  were  such  pictures,  and  would  vanish  when 
tlie  fire  got  low ;  and  that  there  was  nothing  real  in  all  that  I 
remembered,  save  my  mother,  Peggotty,  and  I. 

Peggotty  darned  away  at  a  stocking  as  long  as  she  could  see,  and 
then  sat  with  it  drawn  on  her  left  hand  hke  a  glove,  and  her  needle 
in  her  right,  ready  to  take  another  stitch  whenever  there  was  a  blaze. 
I  cannot  conceive  whose  stockings  they  can  have  been  that  Peggotty 
was  always  darning,  or  where  such  an  unfailing  supply  of  stockings 
in  want  of  darning  can  have  come  from.  From  my  earliest  infancy 
she  seems  to  have  been  always  employed  in  that  class  of  needlework, 
and  never  by  any  chance  in  any  other. 

"  I  wonder,"  said  Peggotty,  who  wtis  sometimes  seized  with  a  fit 
of  wondering  on  some  most  unexpected  topic,  "  what's  become  of 
Davy's  great-aunt  ?  " 


150  DAVID     COP  PER  FIELD. 

"  Lor,  Peggotty ! "  observed  my  mother,  rousing  herself  fioiu  a 
reverie,  *'  what  nonsense  you  talk  ! " 

"  Well,  but  I  really  do  wonder,  ma'am,"  said  Peggotty. 

"  What  can  have  put  such  a  person  in  your  head  ?  "  inquired  my 
mother.     "  Is  there  nobody  else  in  the  world  to  come  there  ? " 

"  I  don't  know  how  it  is,"  said  Peggotty,  "  unless  it's  on  account 
of  being  stupid,  but  my  head  never  can  pick  and  choose  its  people. 
They  come  and  they  go,  and  they  don't  come  and  they  don't  go, 
just  as  they  like.     I  wonder  what's  become  of  her  ? " 

"  How  absurd  you  are,  Peggotty,"  returned  my  mother.  "  One 
would  suppose  you  wanted  a  second  visit  from  her." 

"  Lord  forbid  !  "  cried  Peggotty. 

"  Well  then,  don't  talk  about  such  uncomfortable  things,  there's  a 
good  soul,"  said  my  mother.  "  Miss  Betsey  is  shut  up  in  her  cottage 
by  the  sea,  no  doubt,  and  will  remain  there.  At  all  events,  she  is 
Hot  likely  ever  to  trouble  us  again." 

"  No ! "  mused  Peggotty.  "  No,  that  ain't  likely  at  all. — I  won- 
der, if  she  was  to  die,  whether  she'd  leave  Davy  anything  ? " 

"  Good  gracious  me,  Peggotty,"  returned  my  mother,  "  what  a 
nonsensical  woman  you  are !  when  you  know  that  she  took  offence 
at  the  poor  dear  boy's  ev^er  being  born  at  all ! " 

"  I  suppose  she  wouldn't  be  inchned  to  forgive  him  now,"  hinted 
Peggotty. 

"  Why  should  she  be  inclined  to  forgive  him  now  ? "  said  my 
mother,  rather  sharply. 

"  Now  that  he's  got  a  brother,  I  mean,"  said  Peggotty. 

My  mother  immediately  began  to  cry,  and  wondered  how  Peg 
gotty  dared  to  say  such  a  thing. 

"  As  if  this  poor  little  innocent  in  its  cradle  had  ever  done  any 
harm  to  you  or  anybody  else,  you  jealous  thing  ! "  said  she.  "  Yon 
had  much  better  go  and  marry  Mr.  Barkis,  the  carrier.  Why  don't 
you  ? " 

"I  should  make  !Miss  Murdstone  happy,  if  I  was  to,"  said 
Peggotty. 

"  What  a  bad  disposition  you  have,  Peggotty ! "  returned  my 
mother.  "You  are  as  jealous  of  Miss  Murdstone  as  it  is  possible  for 
a  ridiculous  creatui*e  to  be.     You  want  to  keep  the  keys  yourself,  and 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  151 

give  out  all  tlie  things,  I  suppose  ?  I  shouldn't  be  surprised  if  you 
did.  Wlien  you  know  that  she  only  does  it  out  of  kindness  and  the 
best  intentions !     You  know  she  does,  Peggotty — you  know  it  well.*' 

Peggotty  muttered  something  to  the  effect  of  "  Bother  the  best 
mtentions  !  "  and  somethinij  else  to  the  effect  that  there  was  a  httle 
too  much  of  the  best  intentions  going  on. 

"  I  know  what  you  mean,  you  cross  thing,"  said  my  mother.  "  I 
understand  you,  Peggotty,  perfectly.  You  know  I  do,  and  I 
wonder  you  don't  color  up  like  fire.  But  one  point  at  a  time.  Miss 
Murdstone  is  the  point  now,  Peggotty,  and  you  shan't  escape  from 
it.  Haven't  you  heard  her  say,  over  and  over  again,  that  she 
thinks  I  am  too  thoughtless  and  too — a — a — " 

"  Pretty,"  suggested  Peggotty. 

"  Well,"  returned  my  mother,  half  laughing,  "  and  if  she  is  so 
silly  as  to  say  so,  can  I  be  blamed  for  it  ? " 

"  No  one  says  you  can,"  said  Peggotty. 

"  No,  I  should  hope  not,  indeed ! "  returned  my  mother. 
"  Haven't  you  heard  her  say,  over  and  over  again,  that  on  this 
account  she  wishes  to  spare  me  a  great  deal  of  trouble,  which  she 
thinks  I  am  not  suited  for,  and  which  I  really  don't  know  mysc^lf 
that  I  am  suited  for;  and  isn't  she  up  early  and  late,  and  going  to 
and  fro  continually — and  doesn't  she  do  all  sorts  of  things,  and 
grope  into  all  sorts  of  places,  coal-holes  and  pantries  and  I  don't 
know  where,  that  can't  be  very  agreeable — and  do  you  mean  to 
insinuate  that  there  is  not  a  sort  of  devotion  in  that  ? " 

"  I  don't  insinuate  at  all,"  said  Peggotty. 

"  You  do,  Peggotty,"  returned  my  mother.  "  You  never  do 
anything  else,  except  your  wc 'k.  You  are  always  insinuating.  You 
revel  in  it.  And  when  yoi>  talk  of  Mr.  Murdstone's  good  inten- 
tions—" 

"  I  never  talked  of  'em,"  said  Peggotty. 

"No,  Peggotty,"  returned  my  mother,  "but  you  insinuated. 
That's  what  I  told  you  just  now.  That's  the  worst  of  you.  You 
will  insinuate.  I  said,  at  the  moment,  that  I  understood  you,  and 
you  see  I  did.  \Yhen  you  talk  of  Mr.  Murdstone's  good  intentions, 
and  pretend  to  slight  them  (for  I  don't  l>elieve  you  really  do,  in  your 
heart,  Peggotty),  you  must  be  as  well  cominced  as  I  am  how  go-jd 


152  '  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

they  are,  and  how  they  actuate  him  in  everything.  If  he  aoems  to 
have  been  at  all  stem  with  a  certain  person,  Peggotty — you  under- 
stand, and  so  I  ara  sure  does  Davy,  that  I  am  not  alluding  to  any- 
body present — it  is  solely  because  he  is  satisfied  that  it  is  for  a  certain 
person's  benefit.  He  naturally  loves  a  cerfain  person,  on  my 
account ;  and  acts  solely  for  a  certain  person's  good.  He  is  better 
able  to  judge  of  it  than  I  ara  ;  for  I  very  well  know  that  I  am  a 
Weak,  light,  girhsh  creature,  and  that  he  is  a  firm,  grave,  serious 
man.  And  he  takes,"  said  my  mother,  with  the  tears  which  were 
engendered  in  her  affectionate  nature,  stealing  down  her  face,  "  he 
takes  great  pains  with  me  ;  and  I  ought  to  be  very  thankful  to  him, 
and  very  submissive  to  him  even  in  my  thoughts  ;  and  when  I  am 
not,  Peggotty,  I  worry  and  condemn  myself,  and  feel  doubtful  of  my 
own  heart,  and  don't  know  what  to  do." 

Peggotty  sat  with  her  chin  on  the  foot  of  the  stocking,  looking 
silently  at  the  fire. 

"  There,  Peggotty,"  said  my  mother,  changing  her  tone,  "  don't 
let  us  fall  out  with  one  another,  for  I  couldn't  bear  it.  You  are  my 
true  fi*iend,  I  know,  if  I  have  any  in  the  world.  When  I  call  you 
a  ridiculous  creature,  or  a  vexatious  thing,  or  anything  of  that  sort, 
Peggotty,  I  only  mean  that  you  are  my  true  friend,  and  always  have 
been,  ever  since  the  night  when  Mr.  Copperfield  first  brought  me 
home  here,  and  you  came  out  to  the  gate  to  meet  me." 

Peggotty  was  not  slow  to  respond,  and  ratified  the  treaty  of 
friendship  by  giving  me  one  of  her  best  hugs.  I  think  I  had  some 
glimpses  of  the  real  character  of  this  convei'sation  at  the  time ;  but 
I  am  sure,  now,  that  the  good  creature  originated  it,  and  took  her 
part  in  it,  merely  that  my  mother  might  comfort  herself  with  the 
little  contradictory  summary  in  which  she  had  indulged.  The 
design  was  efficacious ;  for  I  remember  that  my  mother  seemed 
more  at  ease  during  the  rest  of  the  evening,  and  that  Peggotty 
observed  her  less. 

When  we  had  had  our  tea,  and  the  ashes  were  thrown  up.  and 
the  candles  snuffed,  I  read  Peggotty  a  chapter  out  of  the  Crocodile 
Book,  in  remembrance  of  old  times — she  took  it  out  of  her  pocket : 
I  don't  know  v/hether  she  had  kept  it  there  ever  since — and  then 
we  talked  about  Salem  House,  which   Drought  me  round  again  to 


DAVID     COPPER  FIELD.  153 

Steerforth,  who  was  my  great  subject.  We  were  very  happy  ;  j.nd 
that  evening,  as  the  last  of  its  race,  and  destined  evermore  to  close 
that  volume  of  my  life,  will  nevei  pass  out  of  my  memory. 

It  was  almost  ten  o'clock  before  we  heard  the  sound  of  wheels. 
AVe  all  got  up  then  ;  and  my  mother  said  hurriedly  that,  as  it  was 
so  late,  and  Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  approved  of  early  hours  for  young 
people,  perhaps  I  had  better  go  to  bed.  I  kissed  her,  and  went  up 
stairs  with  my  candle  directly,  before  they  came  in.  It  appeared  to 
my  childish  fancy,  as  I  ascended  to  the  bedroom  where  I  had  been 
imprisoned,  that  they  brought  a  cold  blast  of  air  into  the  house 
which  blew  away  the  old  familiar  feeling  like  a  feather. 

I  felt  uncomfortable  about  going  down  to  breakfast  in  the 
morning,  as  I  had  never  set  eyes  on  Mr.  Murdstone  since  the  day 
when  I  committed  my  memorable  offence.  However,  as  it  must  be 
done,  I  went  down,  after  two  or  three  false  starts  half-way,  and  as 
many  runs  back  on  tip-toe  to  my  own  room,  and  presented  myself 
m  the  parlor. 

He  was  standing  before  the  fire  with  his  back  to  it,  while  Miss 
Murdstone  made  the  tea.  He  looked  at  me  steadily  as  I  entered, 
but  made  no  sign  of  recognition  whatever. 

I  went  up  to  him,  after  a  moment  of  confusion,  and  said  :  "  I  beg 
your  pardon,  sir.  I  am  very  sorry  for  what  I  did,  and  I  hope  3'ou 
will  forgive  me." 

"  I  am  glad  to  hear  you  are  sorry,  Da\dd,"  he  replied. 

The  hand  he  gave  me  was  the  hand  I  had  bitten.  I  could  not 
restrain  my  eye  fi'om  resting  for  an  instant  on  a  red  spot  upon  it, 
but  it  was  not  so  red  as  I  turned,  when  I  met  that  sinister  expres- 
sion in  his  face. 

"  How  do  you  do,  ma'am  ?"  I  said  to  Miss  ^f urdstone. 

"  Ah,  dear  me !"  sighed  Miss  Murdstone,  gi^'ing  me  the  tea-caddy 
scoop  instead  of  her  fingers.     "  How  long  are  the  hohdays  ?" 

**  A  month,  ma'am." 

"  Counting  from  when  ?" 

"  From  to-day,  ma'am." 

"  Oh  !"  said  Miss  Murdstone.     "  Then  here's  one  day  off." 

She  kept  a  calendar  of  the  holidays  in  this  way,  and  every  mom- 
iiig  checked  a  day  off  in  exactly  the  "same  manner.     She  did  it 


154  DAVID    COPTERFIELD. 

gloomily  until  she  came  to  ten,  but  when  she  got  into  two  figures 
she  became  more  hopeful,  and,  as  the  time  advanced,  even  jocular. 

It  was  on  this  very  first  day  that  I  had  the  misfortune  to  throw 
her,  though  she  was  not  subject  to  such  weaknesses  in  general,  into 
a  state  of  \iolent  consternation.  I  came  into  the  room  where  she 
and  my  mother  were  sitting ;  and  the  baby  (who  was  only  a  few 
weeks  old)  being  on  my  mother's  lap,  I  took  it  very  carefully  in  my 
arms.  Suddenly  Miss  Murdstone  gave  such  a  scream  that  I  all  but 
dropped  it. 

"  My  dear  Jane !"  cried  my  mother. 

"  Good  heavens,  Clara,  do  you  see  ?"  exclaimed  Miss  Murd- 
stone. 

"  See  what,  my  dear  Jane  ?"  said  my  mother  ;  "  where  ?" 

"  He  's  got  it !"  cried  Miss  Murdstone.  "  The  boy  has  got  the 
baby!" 

She  was  limp  with  hon*or ;  but  stiffened  herself  to  make  a  dart 
at  me,  and  take  it  out  of  my  arms.  Then  she  turned  faint ; 
and  was  so  very  ill,  that  they  were  obliged  to  give  her  cherry- 
brandy.  I  was  solemnly  interdicted  by  her,  on  her  recovery, 
from  touching  my  brother  any  more  on  any  pretence  whatever ; 
and  my  poor  mother,  who,  I  could  see,  washed  other^vise,  meekly 
confirmed  the  interdict,  by  saying  :  "  No  doubt  you  are  right,  my 
dear  Jane." 

On  another  occasion,  when  we  three  were  together,  this  same 
dear  baby — it  was  truly  dear  to  me,  for  our  mother's  sake — was 
the  innocent  occasion  of  Miss  Murdstone's  going  into  a  passion. 
My  mother,  who  had  been  looking  at  its  eyes  as  it  lay  upon  her  lap, 
said : 

"  Davy !  come  here  !"  and  looked  at  mine. 

I  saw  ^liss  Murdstone  lay  her  beads  down. 

"  I  declare,"  said  my  mother,  gently,  "  they  are  exactly  alike.  I 
suppose  they  are  mine.  I  think  they  are  the  color  of  mine.  But 
they  are  wonderfully  ahke." 

"  What  are  you  talking  about,  Clara  ?"  said  Miss  Murdstone. 

"  My  dear  Jane,"  faltered  my  mother,  a  little  abashed  by  the  hnr^li 
tone  of  this  inquiry,  "  I  find  that  the  baby's  eyes  and  Davy's  -dre 
exactly  alike."  • 


DAVID     COrPERFIELD.  1G5 

"Clara!"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  rising  angrily,  "you  are  a  posi- 
tive fool  som(itimes." 

"  My  dear  Jane,"  remonstrated  my  mother. 

"  A  positive  fool,"  said  Miss  Murdstone.  "  Who  else  could  com- 
pare my  brother's  baby  with  your  boy  ?  They  are  not  at  all  ahke. 
They  are  exactly  unlike.  They  are  utterly  dissimilar  in  all  respects. 
I  hope  they  will  ever  remain  so.  I  will  not  sit  here  and  hear  such 
comparisons  made."  With  that  she  stalked  out,  and  made  the  door 
bang  after  her. 

In  short,  I  was  not  a  favorite  with  Miss  Murdstone.  In  short,  I 
was  not  a  favorite  there  with  anybody,  not  even  with  myself;  for 
those  who  did  like  me  could  not  show  it,  and  those  who  did  not, 
showed  it  so  plainly  that  I  had  a  sensitive  consciousness  of  always 
appearing  constrained,  boorish,  and  dull. 

I  felt  that  I  made  them  as  uncomfortable  as  they  made  me.  If  I 
came  into  the  room  where  they  were,  and  they  were  talking  together 
and  my  mother  seemed  cheerful,  an  anxious  cloud  would  steal  over 
her  face  from  the  moment  of  my  entrance.  If  Mr.  Murdstone  were 
in  his  best  humor,  I  checked  him.  If  Miss  Murdstone  were  in  her 
worst,  I  intensified  it.  I  had  perception  enough  to  know  that  my 
mother  was  the  \dctim  always ;  that  she  was  afraid  to  speak  to  me 
or  be  kind  to  me,  lest  she  should  give  them  some  ofience  by  her 
manner  of  doing  so,  and  receive  a  lecture  afterwards  ;  that  she  was 
not  only  ceaselessly  afi-aid  of  her  own  offending,  but  of  my  offending, 
and  uneasily  watched  their  looks  if  I  only  moved.  Therefore  I 
resolved  to  keep  myself  as  much  out  of  their  way  as  I  could ;  and 
many  a  wintry  hour  did  I  hear  the  church-clock  strike,  when  I  was 
sitting  in  my  cheerless  bedroom,  wrapped  in  my  httle  great-coat, 
poring  over  a  book. 

In  the  evening,  sometimes,  I  went  and  sat  with  Peggotty  in  the 
kitchen.  There  I  was  comfortable,  and  not  afraid  of  being  myself. 
But  neither  of  these  resources  was  approved  of  in  the  parlor.  The 
tormenting  humor  which  was  dominant  there  stopped  them  both. 
[  was  still  held  to  be  necessary  to  my  poor  mother's  training,  and, 
as  one  ot  her  trials,  could  not  be  suffered  to  absent  myself. 

"  Da\id,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  one  day  after  dinner  when  I  was 
going  to  leave  the  room  as  usual ;  "  I  am  soiTy  to  observe  that  you 
are  of  a  sullen  disposition." 


166  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  As  sulky  as  a  bear !"  said  Miss  Murdstone. 

I  stood  still,  and  hung  my  head. 

"  Now,  David,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  "  a  sullen  obdurate  disposition 
is,  of  all  tempei*s,  the  worst." 

"  And  the  boy's  is,  of  all  such  dispositions  that  ever  I  have  seen," 
remarked  his  sister,  "  the  most  confirmed  and  stubborn.  I  think, 
my  dear  Clara,  even  you  must  observe  it  ?" 

"  I  beg  your  pardon,  my  dear  Jane,"  said  my  mother,  "  but  are 
you  quite  sure — I  am  certain  you  '11  excuse  me,  my  dear  Jane — ■ 
that  you  understand  Davy  ?" 

"  1  should  be  somewhat  ashamed  of  myself,  Clara,"  returned  Miss 
Murdstone,  "  if  I  could  not  understand  the  boy,  or  any  boy.  I  don't 
profess  to  be  profound ;  but  I  do  lay  claim  to  common  sense." 

"  No  doubt,  my  dear  Jane,"  returned  my  mother,  "  your  under- 
standing is  very  vigorous — " 

"  O  dear,  no  !  Pray  don't  say  that,  Clara,"  interposed  Miss  Murd- 
stone, angrily. 

"  But  I  am  sure  it  is,"  resumed  my  mother ;  "  and  everybody 
knows  it  is.  I  profit  so  much  by  it  myself,  in  many  ways — at  least 
I  ought  to — that  no  one  can  be  more  convinced  of  it  than  myself ; 
and  therefore  I  speak  with  great  diffidence,  my  dear  Jane,  I  assure 
you." 

"  We  '11  say  I  don't  understand  the  boy,  Clara,"  returned  Miss 
^Murdstone,  arranging  the  little  fetters  on  her  wrists.  "  We  '11  agree, 
if  you  please,  that  I  don't  understand  him  at  all.  He  is  much  too 
deep  for  me.  But  perhaps  my  brother's  penetration  may  enable 
him  to  have  some  insight  into  his  character.  And  I  believe  my 
brother  was  speaking  on  the  subject  when  we — not  very  decently — • 
interrupted  him." 

"  I  think,  Clara,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  in  a  lew,  grave  voice,  "  that 
there  may  be  better  and  more  dispassionate  judges  of  such  a  ques 
tion  than  you." 

"  Edward,"  repKed  my  mother,  timidly,  "  you  are  a  far  better  judge 
of  all  questions  than  I  pretend  to  be.  Both  you  and  Jane  are.  I 
only  said — ^" 

"  You  only  said  something  weak  and  inconsiderate,"  he  replied. 
"  Try  not  to  do  it  again,  my  dear  Clara,  and  keep  a  watch  upon 
youi'self." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  157 

My  motlier's  lips  moved,  as  if  she  answered,  "  Yes,  my  dear  Ed- 
ward," but  she  said  nothing  aloud. 

"  I  was  sorry,  David,  I  remarked,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  turning 
his  head  and  his  eyes  stiffly  towards  me,  "  to  observe  that  you  are 
of  a  sullen  disposition.  This  is  not  a  character  that  I  can  suffer  to 
develop  itself  beneath  my  eyes  without  an  effort  at  improvement. 
You  must  endeavour,  sir,  to  change  it.  We  must  endeavour  to 
change  it  for  you." 

"  I  beg  your  pardon,  sir,"  I  faltered.  "  I  have  never  meant  to 
be  sullen  since  I  came  back." 

"  Don't  take  refuge  in  a  lie,  sir !"  he  returned  so  fiercely,  that  I 
saw  my  mother  involuntarily  put  out  her  trembling  hand  as  if  to 
interpose  between  us.  "  You  have  withdrawn  youreelf  in  your 
suUenness  to  your  own  room.  You  have  kept  your  own  room  when 
you  ought  to  have  been  here.  You  know  now,  once  for  all,  that  I 
require  you  to  be  here,  and  not  there.  Further,  that  I  require 
you  to  bring  obedience  here.  You  know  me,  David.  I  will  have  it 
done." 

Miss  Murdstone  gave  a  hoarse  chuckle. 

"  I  will  have  a  respectful,  prompt,  and  ready  bearing  towards  my- 
self," he  continued,  "  and  towards  Jane  Murdstone,  and  towards  your 
mother.  I  -ssill  not  have  this  room  shunned  as  if  it  were  infected,  at 
the  pleasure  of  a  child.     Sit  down." 

He  ordered  me  hke  a,  dog,  and  I  obeyed  like  a  dog. 
"  One  thing  more,"  he  said.  "  I  observe  that  you  have  an  attach 
ment  to  low  and  common  company.  You  are  not  to  associate  with 
servants.  The  kitchen  will  not  improve  you,  in  the  many  respects 
in  which  you  need  improvement.  Of  the  woman  who  abets  you,  I 
say  nothing — since  you,  Clara,"  addressing  my  mother  in  a  lower 
voice,  "from  old  associations  and  long-established  fancies,  have  a 
weakness  respecting  her  which  is  not  yet  overcome." 

"  A  most  unaccountable  delusion  it  is  !"  cried  Miss  Murdstone. 
"  I  only  say,"  he  resumed,  addressing  me,  "  that  I  disapprove  of 
your  prefening  such  company  as  Mistress  Peggotty,  and  that  it  is  to 
be  abandoned.     Now,  David,  you  understand  me,  and  you  know 
what  will  be  the  consequence  if  you  fail  to  obey  me  to  the  letter." 

I  knew  well — better  perhaps  than  he  thought,  as  far  as  my  poor 
mother  was  concerned — and  I  obeyed  him  to  the  letter.     I  retreated 


158  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

to  my  own  room  no  more  ;  I  took  refuge  with  Peggotty  no  more  • 
but  sat  wearily  in  the  parlor  day  after  day,  looking  forward  to  night, 
and  bed-time. 

What  irksome  constraint  I  underwent,  sitting  in  the  same  attitudf 
houi*s  upon  hours,  afraid  to  move  an  arm  or  a  leg  lest  Miss  Murd 
stone  should  complain  (as  she  did  on  the  least  pretence)  of  my  rest 
lessness,  and  afraid  to  move  an  eye  lest  it  should  light  on  some  look 
of  dislike  or  scrutiny  that  would  find  new  cause  for  complaint  in 
mine  !  What  intolerable  dulness  to  sit  hstening  to  the  ticking  of 
the  clock ;  and  watching  Miss  Murdstone's  little  shiny  steel  beads  as 
she  strung  them ;  and  wondering  whether  she  would  ever  be  married, 
and  if  so,  to  what  sort  of  unhappy  man ;  and  counting  the  divisions 
in  the  moulding  on  the  chimney-piece ;  and  wandering  away,  with 
my  eyes,  to  the  ceiling,  among  the  curls  and  corkscrews  in  the  paper 
on  the  wall ! 

What  walks  I  took  alone,  down  muddy  lanes,  in  the  bad  winter 
weather,  carr}ang  that  parlor,  and  Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  in  it,- 
everywhere  :  a  monstrous  load  that  I  was  obliged  to  bear,  a  daymare 
that  there  was  no  possibihty  of  breaking  in,  a  weight  that  brooded 
on  my  wits,  and  blunted  them ! 

What  meals  I  had  in  silence  and  embarrassment,  always  feehng 
that  there  were  a  knife  and  fork  too  many,  and  that  mine ;  an  ap- 
petite too  many,  and  that  mine ;  a  plate  and  chair  too  many,  and  those 
mine  ;  a  somebody  too  many,  and  that  I ! 

What  evenings,  when  the  candles  came,  and  I  was  expected  to 
employ  myself,  but,  not  daring  to  read  an  entertaining  book,  pored 
over  some  hard-headed,  a«l  harder-hearted  treatise  on  arithmetic ; 
when  the  tables  of  weights  and  measures  set  themselves  to  tunes,  as 
Kule  Britannia,  or  Away  with  Melancholy ;  and  wouldn't  stand  still 
to  be  learnt,  but  would  go  threading  my  grandmother's  needle 
through  my  unfortunate  head,  in  at  one  ear  and  out  at  the  other ! 

What  yawns  and  dozes  I  lapsed  into,  in  si)ite  of  all  my  care ;  what 
starts  I  came  out  of  concealed  sleeps  with  ;  what  answers  I  never  got, 
to  little  observations  that  I  rarely  made ;  what  a  blank  space  I 
seemed,  which  everybody  overlooked,  and  yet  was  in  everybody's 
way  ;  what  a  heavy  relief  it  was  to  hear  Miss  Murdstone  hail  the  first 
stroke  of  nine  at  night,  and  order  me  to  bed ! 

Thus  the  hohdays  lagged  away,  until  the  morning  came  when 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  1G9 

Miss  Miirdstone  said:  "Here's  the  last  day  oflf!"  and  gave  me  tha 
closing  cup  of  tea  of  the  vacation. 

I  was  not  sorry  to  go.  I  had  lapsed  into  a  stupid  state  ;  but  I 
was  recovering  a  httle  and  looking  forward  to  Steerforth,  albeit  Mr. 
Creakle  loomed  behind  him.  Again  Mr,  Barkis  appeared  at  the  gate, 
and  affain  ]\liss  Murdstone  in  her  warninfj  voice  said  :  "  Clara !"  when 
my  mother  bent  over  me,  to  bid  me  farewell. 

I  kissed  her,  and  my  baby  brother,  and  was  very  sorry  then  ;  but 
not  sorry  to  go  away,  for  the  gulf  between  us  was  there,  and  the 
parting  was  there,  every  day.  And  it  is  not  so  much  the  embrace 
she  gave  me,  that  lives  in  my  mind,  though  it  was  as  fervent  as 
could  be,  as  what  followed  the  embrace. 

I  was  in  the  carrier's  cart  when  I  heard  her  calling  to  me.  I 
looked  out,  and  she  stood  at  the  garden-gate  alone,  holding  her  baby 
up  in  her  arms  for  me  to  see.  It  was  cold,  still  weather  ;  and  not  a 
hair  of  her  head,  or  a  fold  of  her  dress,  was  stirred,  as  she  looked 
intently  at  me,  holding  up  her  child. 

So  I  lost  her.  So  I  saw  her  afterwards,  in  my  sleep  at  school — a 
silent  presence  near  my  bed — looking  at  me  with  *he  same  intent 
6ace — holding  up  her  baby  in  her  arms. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

I   HAVE    A    MEMORABLE    BIRTHDAY 

I  PASS  over  all  that  happened  at  school,  imtil  the  anniversary  of 
my  birthday  came  round  in  March.  Except  that  Steerforth  waa 
more  to  be  admired  than  ever,  I  remember  nothing.  He  was 
going  away  at  the  end  of  the  half-year,  if  not  sooner,  and  was  more 
spirited  and  independent  than  before  in  my  eyes,  and  therefore  more 
enoraoinof  than  before ;  but  bevond  this  I  remember  nothino;.  The 
great  remembrance  by  which  that  time  is  marked  in  my  mind,  seems 
to  have  swallowed  up  all  lesser  recollections,  and  to  exist  alone. 

It  is  even  difficult  for  me  to  believe  that  there  was  a  gap  of  full 
two  months  between  my  return  to  Salem  House  and  the  arrival  of 
that  birthday.  I  can  only  understand  that  the  fact  was  so,  becausft 
I  know  it  must  have  been  so  ;  otherwise  I  should  feel  con\-inced  that 
there  was  no  interval,  and  that  the  one  occasion  trod  upon  the 
other's  heels. 

How  well  I  recollect  the  kind  of  day  it  was  !  I  smell  the  fog 
that  hung  about  the  place  ;  I  see  the  hoar  frost,  ghostly,  through  it ; 
I  feel  my  rimy  hair  fall  clammy  on  my  cheek  ;  I  look  along  the  dim 
perspective  of  the  schoolroom,  with  a  sputtering  candle  here  and 
tliere  to  light  up  the  foggy  morning,  and  the  breath  of  the  boys 
^M'eathing  and  smoking  in  the  raw  cold  as  they  blow  upon  their 
fingers,  and  tap  their  feet  upon  the  floor. 

It  was  after  breakfast,  and  we  had  beer  summoned  in  from  the 
plav-ground,  when  Mr.  Sharp  entered  and  said : 

"  David  Coppeiiield  is  to  go  into  the  parlor." 

I  expected  a  hamper  from  Peggotty,  and  brightened  at  the  order. 
Some  of  the  boys  about  me  put  in  their  claim  not  to  be  forgotten  in 
the  distribution  of  the  good  things,  as  I  got  out  of  my  seat  with 
great  alacrity. 

"  Don't  hurry,  David,"  said  Mr.  Sharp.  "  There's  time  enough, 
my  boy,  don't  hurry." 

I  might  have  been  surprised  by  the  feeling  tone  in  which  he  spoke, 
160 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  161 

if  I  had  given  it  a  thought ;  but  I  gave  it  none  until  afterwards.  J 
hurried  away  to  the  parlor ;  and  there  I  found  Mr.  Creakle  sitting 
at  his  breakfast  with  the  cane  and  a  newspaper  before  him,  and  Mrs. 
Creakle  with  an  opened  letter  in  her  hand.     But  no  hamper. 

•'  David  Copperfield,"  said  Mi*s.  Creakle,  leading  me  to  a  sofa,  and 
sitting  down  beside  me.  "  I  want  to  speak  to  you  very  particularly 
I  have  something  to  tell  you,  my  child." 

Mr.  Creakle,  at  whom  of  course  I  looked,  shook  his  head  without 
looking  at  me,  and  stopped  up  a  sigh  with  a  very  large  piece  of  but- 
tered toast. 

"  You  are  too  young  to  know  how  the  world  changes  every  day," 
said  Mrs.  Creakle,  "  and  how  the  people  in  it  pass  away.  But  we  all 
have  to  learn  it,  David ;  some  of  us  when  we  are  young,  some  of  us 
when  we  are  old,  some  of  us  at  all  times  of  our  lives." 

I  looked  at  her  earnestly. 

"  When  you  came  away  from  home  at  the  end  of  the  vacation," 
said  Mrs.  Creakle,  after  a  pause,  "  were  they  all  weU  ?  "  And  after 
another  pause,  "  Was^  your  mama  well  ? " 

I  trembled  without  distinctly  knowing  why,  and  still  looked  at  her 
earnestly,  making  no  attempt  to  answer. 

"  Because,"  said  she,  "  I  grieve  to  tell  you  that  I  hear  this  morning 
your  mama  is  very  ill." 

A  mist  arose  between  Mrs.  Creakle  and  me,  and  her  figure  seemed 
to  move  in  it  for  an  instant.  Then  I  felt  the  burninor  tears  run  down 
my  face,  and  it  was  steady  again. 

"  She  is  very  dangerously  ill,"  she  added. 

I  knew  all  now. 

"She  is  dead." 

There  was  no  need  to  tell  me  so.  I  had  already  broken  out  into 
a  desolate  cry,  and  felt  an  orphan  in  the  wide  world. 

She  was  very  kind  to  me.     She  kept  me  there  all  day,  and  left 

ne  alone  sometimes ;  and  I  cried,  and  wore  myself  to  sleep,  and 

awoke  and  cried  again.     When  I  could  cry  no  more,  I  began  to 

think ;  and  then  the  oppression  on  my  breast  was  hea\iest,  and  my 

grief  a  dull  pain  that  there  was  no  ease  for. 

And  yet  my  thoughts  were  idle  ;  not  intent  on  the  calamity  that 
weighed  upon  ny  litart,  but  idly  loitering  near  it.     I  thought  of 
oiir  house  shut  up  and  hushed.     I  thought  of  the  httle  baby,  who, 
10 


162  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

Mrs.  Creakle  said,  had  been  pining  away  for  some  time,  and  who, 
they  believed,  would  die  too.  I  thought  of  my  father's  gi-ave  in  tha 
churchyard,  by  our  house,  and  of  my  mother  lying  there  beneath 
the  tree  I  knew  so  well.  I  stood  upon  a  chair  when  I  was  left 
alone,  and  looked  into  the  glass  to  see  how  red  my  eyes  were,  and 
how  sorrowful  my  face.  I  considered,  after  some  hours  were  gone, 
if  my  tears  were  really  hard  to  flow  now,  as  they  seemed  to  be, 
what,  in  connexion  with  my  loss,  it  would  affect  me  most  to  think 
of  when  I  drew  near  home — ^for  I  was  going  home  to  the  funeral.  I 
am  sensible  of  having  felt  that  a  dignity  attached  to  me  among  the 
rest  of  the  boys,  and  that  I  was  important  in  my  affliction. 

If  ever  child  were  stricken  with  sincere  grief,  I  was.  But  I  re- 
member that  this  importance  was  a  kind  of  satisfaction  to  me,  when 
I  walked  in  the  playground  that  afternoon  while  the  boys  were  in 
school.  When  I  saw  them  glancing  at  me  out  of  the  windows,  as 
they  went  up  to  their  classes,  I  felt  distinguished,  and  looked  more 
melancholy,  and  walked  slower.  When  school  was  over,  and  they 
came  out  and  spoke  to  me,  I  felt  it  rather  good  in  myself  not  to  be 
proud  to  any  of  them,  and  to  take  exactly  the  same  notice  of  them 
all,  as  before. 

I  was  to  go  home  next  night ;  not  by  the  mail,  but  by  the  heavy 
night-coach,  which  was  called  the  Farmer,  and  was  principally  used 
by  country-people  travelling  short  intermediate  distances  upon  the 
road.  We  had  no  story  telling  that  evening,  and  Traddles  insisted 
on  lending  me  his  pillow.  I  don't  know  what  good  he  thought  it 
would  do  me,  for  I  had  one  of  my  own ;  but  it  was  all  he  had  to 
lend,  poor  fellow,  except  a  sheet  of  letter  paper  full  of  skeletons ;  and 
that  he  gave  me  at  parting,  as  a  soother  of  my  sorrows  and  a  contri- 
bution to  my  peace  of  mind. 

I  left  Salem  House  upon  the  morrow  afternoon.  I  httle  thought 
then  that  I  left  it,  never  to  return.  We  travelled  very  slowly  all  night, 
and  did  not  get  into  Yarmouth  before  nine  or  ten  o'clock  in  the 
morning.  I  looked  out  for  Mr.  Barkis,  but  he  was  not  there ;  and 
instead  of  him  a  fat,  short- 'wdnded,  merry-looking,  little  old  man  in 
black,  ^vith  rusty  little  bunches  of  ribbons  at  the  knees  of  his  breeches, 
black  stockings,  and  a  broad-brimmed  hat,  came  puffing  up  to  the 
coach  window,  and  said  : 

"  Master  Copperfield  ?  " 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  163 

"Yes,  sir." 

"Will  you  come  with  me,  young  sir,  if  you  please"  ae  said, 
opening  the  door,  "  and  I  shall  have  the  pleasure  of  taking  you 
home." 

I  put  my  hand  in  his,  wondering  who  he  was,  and  we  walked  away 
to  a  shop  in  a  nan*ow  street,  on  which  was  wiitten  Omer,  Draper, 
Tailor,  Haberdasher,  Funeral  Furnisher,  &c.  It  was  a  close 
and  stifling  little  shop  ;  full  of  all  sorts  of  clothing,  made  and 
unmade,  including  one  window  full  of  beaver-hats  and  bonnets.  We 
went  into  a  httle  back-parlor  behind  the  shop,  where  we  found  three 
young  women  at  work  on  a  quantity  of  black  materials,  which  were 
heaped  upon  the  table,  and  little  bits  and  cuttings  of  which  were  lit- 
tered all  over  the  flc^r.  There  was  a  good  fire  in  the  room,  and  a 
breathless  smell  of  warm  black  crape — I  did  not  know  what  the  smell 
was  then,  but  I  know  now. 

The  three  young  women,  who  appeared  to  be  very  industrious 
and  comfortable,  raised  their  heads  to  look  at  me,  and  then  went  on 
with  their  work.  Stitch,  stitch,  stitch.  At  the  same  time  there  came 
from  a  workshop  across  a  httle  yard  outside  the  window,  a  regular 
Bound  of  hammering  that  kept  a  kind  of  tune  :  Rat — tat-tat,  rat — 
tat-tat,  RAt — tat-tat,  %^'ithout  any  vai'iation. 

"  Well,"  said  my  conductor  to  one  of  the  three  young  women. 
"  How  do  you  get  on,  ^Minnie  ? " 

"  We  shall  be  ready  by  the  trpng-on  time,"  she  rephed  gaily, 
without  looking  up.     "  Don't  you  be  afraid,  Mher." 

Mr.  Omer  took  off  his  broad-brimmed  hat,  and  sat  down  and 
panted.  He  was  so  fat  that  he  was  obliged  to  pant  some  time 
before  he  could  say  : 

"That's  right." 

"Father!"  said  Minnie  playfully.  "What  a  porpoise  you  do 
grow ! " 

"  Well,  I  don't  know  how  it  is,  my  dear,"  he  rephed,  considering 
about  it.     "  I  am  rather  so." 

"  You  are  such  a  comfortable  man,  you  see,"  said  Minnie.  "  You 
take  tilings  so  easy." 

"  No  use  taking  'em  otherwise,  ray  dear ''  said  Mr.  Omer. 

"  No,  indeed,"  returned  his  daughter.  "  We  are  all  pretty  gay 
-here,  thank  Heaven !     Ain't  we,  father  ? " 


164  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  I  hope  so,  my  dear,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  As  I  hate  got  my  breath 
now,  I  think  I'll  measure  this  young  scholar.  Would  you  walk  into 
the  shop.  Master  Copperfield  ? " 

I  preceded  Mr.  Omer,  in  comphance  with  his  request ;  and  after 
showing  me  a  roll  of  cloth  which  he  said  was  extra  super,  and  too 
good  mourning  for  anything  short  of  parents,  he  took  my  various 
dimensions,  and  put  them  down  in  a  book.  While  he  was  recording 
them  he  called  my  attention  to  his  stock  in  trade,  and  to  certain 
fashions  which  he  said  had  "just  come  up,"  and  to  certain  other 
fashions  which  he  said  had  "just  gone  out." 

"  And  by  that  sort  of  thing  we  very  often  lose  a  little  mint  of 
money,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "But  fashions  are  hke  human  beings. 
They  come  in,  nobody  knows  when,  why,  or  how ;  and  they  go  out, 
nobody  knows  when,  why,  or  how.  Everything  is  like  hfe,  in  my 
opinion,  if  you  look  at  it  in  that  point  of  \iew." 

I  was  too  sorrowful  to  discuss  the  question,  which  would  possibly , 
have  been  beyond  me  under  any  circumstances ;  and  Mr.  Omer  took 
me  back  into  the  parlor,  breathing  Avith  some  difficulty  on  the  way. 

He  then  called  down  a  httle  break-neck  range  of  steps  behind  a 
door :  "  Bring  up  that  tea  and  bread-and-butter ! "  which,  after  some 
time,  during  which  I  sat  looking  about  me  and  thinking,  and  listening 
to  the  stitching  in  the  room,  and  the  tune  that  was  being  hammered 
across  the  yard,  appeared  on  a  tray,  and  turned  out  to  be  for  me. 

"  I  have  been  acquainted  with  you,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  after  watching 
me  for  some  minutes,  during  which  I  had  not  made  much  impression 
on  the  breakfast,  for  the  black  things  destroyed  my  appetite,  "  I 
have  been  acquainted  with  you  a  long  time,  my  young  friend." 

"  Have  you,  sir  ? " 

"  All  your  hfe,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  I  may  say  before  it.  I  knew 
your  father  before  you.  He  was  five  foot  nine  and  a  half,  and  he 
lays  in  five  and  twen-ty  foot  of  ground." 

"  Rat — tat-tat,  rat — tat-tat,  rat — tat-tat,"  across  the  yard. 

"  He  lays  in  five  and  twen-ty  foot  of  ground,  if  he  lays  in  a 
fraction,"  said  Mr.  Omer  pleasantly.  "  It  was  either  his  request  or 
her  direction,  I  forget  which." 

"  Do  you  know  how  my  little  brother  is,  su*  ?"  I  inquired. 

Mr.  Omer  shook  his  head. 

"  Rat — tat-tat,  rat — tat-tat,  rat — tat-tat." 

"  He  is  in  his  mother's  arms,"  said  he. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  165 

"  Oh,  poor  little  fellow  !     Is  he  dead  ? " 

"  Don't  mind  it  more  than  you  can  help,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  Yes. 
The  baby's  dead." 

My  wounds  broke  ou-t  afresh  at  this  intelligence.  I  left  the 
scarcely-tasted  breakfast,  and  went  and  rested  my  head  on  another 
table  in  a  corner  of  the  little  room,  which  Minnie  hastily  cleared,  lest 
I  should  spot  the  mourning  that  was  l}^ng  there  with  my  tears. 
She  was  a  pretty  good-natured  girl,  and  put  my  hair  away  from  my 
eyes  with  a  soft  kind  touch ;  but  she  was  very  cheerful  at  having 
nearly  finished  her  work  and  being  in  good  time,  and  was  so 
different  from  me. 

Presently  the  tune  left  off,  and  a  good-looking  young  fellow^  came 
across  the  yard  into  the  room.  He  had  a  hammer  in  his  hand,  and 
his  mouth  was  fiill  of  little  nails,  which  he  was  obliged  to  take  out 
before  he  could  speak. 

"  Well,  Joram  ! "  said  Mr.  Omer.     "  How  do  you  get  on  ? " 

"  All  right,"  said  Joram.     "  Done,  sir." 

Minnie  colored  a  little,  and  the  other  two  girls  smiled  at  one 
another. 

"  What !  you  were  at  it  by  candle-light  last  night,  when  I  was  at 
the  club,  then  ?     Were  you  ? "  said  Mr.  Omer,  shutting  up  one  eye. 

"  Yes,"  said  Joram.  "  As  you  said  we  could  make  a  little  trip  of 
it,  and  go  over  together,  if  it  was  done,  Minnie  and  me — and  you." 

"  Oh  !  I  thought  you  were  going  to  leave  me  out  altogether,"  said 
Mr.  Omer,  laughing  till  he  coughed. 

" — As  you  was  so  good  as  to  say  that,"  resumed  the  young  man, 
"  why  I  turned  to  with  a  will,  you  see.  Will  you  give  me  your 
opinion  of  it  ? " 

"  I  will,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  rising.  "  My  dear ; "  and  he  stopped  and 
turned  to  me  ;  "  would  you  hke  to  see  your " 

"  No,  father,"  Minnie  interposed. 

"I  thought  it  might  be  agreeable,  my  dear,"  said  Mr.  Omer. 
"  But  perhaps  you're  right." 

I  can't  say  how  I  knew  it  was  my  dear,  dear  mother's  coffin  that 
they  went  to  look  at.  I  had  never  heard  one  making  ;  I  had  never 
seen  one  that  I  know  of :  but  it  came  into  my  mind  what  the  noisa 
was,  while  it  was  going  on  ;  and  when  the  young  man  entered,  I  am 
sure  I  knew  what  he  had  been  doiniTf. 


166  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

The  work  being  now  finished,  the  two  girls,  whose  names  I  had 
not  heard,  brushed  the  shreds  and  threads  fi-om  their  dresses,  and 
went  into  tlie  shop  to  put  that  to  rights,  and  wait  for  customers. 
Minnie  stayed  behind  to  fold  up  what  they  had  made,  and  pack  it  i  nto 
baskets.  This  she  did,  upon  her  knees,  humming  a  hvely  httle  tane 
the  while.  Joram,  who  I  had  no  doubt  was  her  lover,  came  in  and 
stole  a  kiss  from  her  while  she  was  busy  (he  didn't  appear  to  mind 
me,  at  all),  and  said  her  father  was  gone  for  the  chaise,  and  he  must 
make  haste  and  get  himself  ready.  Then  he  went  out  again  ;  and 
then  she  put  her  thimble  and  scissors  in  her  pocket,  and  stuck  a 
needle  threaded  with  black  thread  neatly  in  the  bosom  of  her  gown, 
and  put  on  her  outer  clothing  sihartly,  at  a  little,  glass  behind  the 
door,  in  which  I  saw  the  reflection  of  her  pleased  face. 

All  this  I  observed,  sitting  at  the  table  in  the  corner  Avith  my 
head  leaning  on  my  hand,  and  my  thoughts  running  on  very  differ- 
ent thino^.  The  chaise  soon  came  round  to  the  front  of  the  shop, 
and  the  baskets  being  put  in  first,  I  was  put  in  next,  and  those 
three  followed.  I  remember  it  as  a  kind  of  half  chaise-cart,  half 
piano-forte  van,  painted  of  a  sombre  color,  and  di'awn  by  a  black 
horse  with  a  long  tail.     There  was  plenty  of  room  for  us  all. 

I  do  not  think  I  have  ever  experienced  so  strange  a  feeling  in  my 
Jife  (I  am  wiser  now,  perhaps)  as  that  of  being  with  them,  remem- 
bering how  they  had  been  employed,  and  seeing  them  enjoy  the 
ride.  I  was  not  angry  with  them  ;  I  was  more  afraid  of  them,  as  if 
I  were  cast  away  among  creatures  with  whom  I  had  no  community 
of  nature.  They  were  veiy  cheerful.  The  old  man  sat  in  jfront  to 
drive,  and  the  two  young  people  sat  behind  him,  and  whenever  he 
spoke  to  them  leaned  forward,  the  one  on  one  side  of  his  chubby 
face,  and  the  other  on  the  other,  and  made  a  great  deal  of  him. 
They  would  have  talked  to  me  too,  but  I  held  back,  and  moped  in 
my  corner ;  scared  by  their  love-making  and  hilarity,  though  it  was 
far  from  boisterous,  and  almost  wondering  that  no  judgment  came 
upon  them  for  their  hardness  of  heart. 

So,  when  they  stopped  to  bait  the  horse,  and  ate  and  drank  and 
enjoyed  themselves,  I  could  touch  nothing  that  they  touched,  but 
kept  my  fast  unbroken.  So,  when  we  reached  home,  I  di'opped  out 
of  the  chaise  behind,  as  quickly  as  possible,  that  I  might  not  be  in 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  167 

their  company  before  those  solemn  windows,  looking  blind!}  on  me 
Uke  closed  eyes  once  bright.  And  oh,  how  httle  need  I  had  had  to 
think  what  would  move  me  to  tears  when  I  came  back — seeing  the 
window  of  my  mother's  room,  and  next  it  that  which,  in  th(i  better 
time,  was  mine  ! 

I  was  in  Peggotty's  arms  before  I  got  to  the  door,  and  she  took 
me  into  the  house.  Her  grief  burst  out  when  she  first  saw  me  ;  but 
she  controlled  it  soon,  and  spoke  in  .whispers,  and  walked  softly, 
as  if  the  dead  could  be  disturbed.  She  had  not  been  in  bed,  I 
found,  for  a  long  time.  She  sat  up  at  night  still,  and  watched.  As 
long  as  her  poor  dear  pretty  was  above  the  ground,  she  said,  she 
would  never  desert  her. 

Mr.  Murdstone  took  no  heed  of  me  when  I  went  into  the  parlor 
where  he  was,  but  sat  by  the  fireside,  weeping  silently,  and  ponder- 
ing in  his  elbow-chaii.  Miss  Murdstone,  who  was  busy  at  her  writ- 
ing-desk, which  was  covered  \vith  letters  and  papers,  gave  me  her 
cold  finger-nails,  and  asked  me,  in  an  iron  whisper,  if  I  had  been 
measured  for  my  mourning. 

I  said:  "Yes." 

"  And  your  shirts,"  said  Miss  Murdstone ;  "  have  you  brought  'em 
home  ?" 

"  Yes,  ma'am.     I  have  brought  home  all  my  clothes." 

This  was  all  the  consolation  that  her  firmness  administered  to  me. 
I  do  not  doubt  that  she  had  a  choice  pleasure  in  exhibiting  what  she 
called  her  self-command,  and  her  firmness,  and  her  strength  of 
mind,  and  her  common  sense,  and  the  whole  diabolical  catjilogue 
of  her  unamiable  qualities,  on  such  an  occasion.  She  was  particu- 
larly proud  of  her  turn  for  business ;  and  she  showed  it  now  in 
reducing  everything  to  pen  and  ink,  and  being  moved  by  nothing. 
All  the  rest  of  that  day,  and  from  morning  to  night  afterwards,  she 
sat  at  that  desk  ;  scratching  composedly  with  a  hard  pen,  speaking 
in  the  same  imperturbable  whisper  to  everybody ;  never  relaxing  a 
muscle  of  her  face,  or  softening  a  tone  of  her  voice,  or  appearing 
with  an  atom  of  her  dress  astray. 

Her  brother  took  a  book  sometimes,  but  never  read  it  that  I  saw. 
He  would  open  it  and  look  at  it  as  if  he  were  reading,  but  would 
remain  for  a  whole  hour  without  turning  the  leaf,  and  then  put  it 


168  DAVID     COPrERFIELD. 

down  and  walk  to  and  fro  in  the  room.  I  used  to  sit  with  folded 
hands  watching  him,  and  counting  liis  footsteps  hour  after  hour 
He  very  seldom  spoke  to  her,  and  never  to  me.  He  seemed  to  be 
the  only  restless  thing,  except  the  clocks,  in  tne  whole  motionless 
house. 

In  these  days  before  the  funeral,  I  saw  but  httle  of  Peggotty 
except  that,  in  passing  up  or  down  stairs,  I  always  found  her  close 
to  the  room  where  my  mother  and  her  baby  lay,  and  except  that 
she  came  to  me  every  night,  and  sat  by  my  bed's  head  while  I  went 
to  sleep.  A  day  or  two  before  the  burial — I  think  it  was  a  day  or 
two  before,  but  I  am  conscious  of  confusion  in  my  mind  about  that 
heavy  time,  with  nothing  to  mark  its  progress — she  took  me  into 
the  room.  I  only  recollect  that  underneath  some  white  covering  on 
the  bed,  with  a  beautiful  cleanliness  and  freshness  all  around  it,  there 
seemed  to  me  to  lie  embodied  the  solemn  stillness  that  was  in  the 
house;  and  that  when  she  would  have  turned  the  cover  gently 
back,  I  cried  :  "  Oh  no  !  oh  no !"  and  held  her  hand. 

If  the  fimeral  had  been  yesterday,  I  could  not  recollect  it  better. 
The  veiy  air  of  the  best  parlor,  when  I  went  in  at  the  door,  the 
bright  condition  of  the  fire,  the  shining  of  the  wine  in  the  decanters, 
the  patterns  of  the  glasses  and  plates,  the  faint  sweet  smell  of  cake, 
the  odour  of  IVIiss  Murdstone's  dress,  and  our  black  clothes.  Mr. 
Chillip  is  in  the  room,  and  comes  to  speak  to  me. 

"  And  how  is  Master  David  ?"  he  says  kindly. 

I  cannot  tell  him  very  well.  I  give  him  my  hand,  which  he  holds 
in  his. 

"Dear  me!"  says  Mr.  Chillip,  meekly  smiling,  with  something 
shining  in  his  eye.  "  Our  httle  friends  grow  up  around  us.  They 
grow  out  of  our  knowledge,  ma'am  ?" 

This  is  to  Miss  Murdstone,  who  makes  no  reply. 

"  There  is  a  great  improvement  here,  ma'am  !"  says  Mr.  Chillip. 

Miss  Murdstone  merely  answers  with  a  frown  and  a  formal  bend  ; 
Mr.  Chillip,  discomfited,  goes  into  a  corner,  keeping  me  with  him, 
and  opens  his  mouth  no  more. 

I  remark  this,  because  I  remark  everything  that  happens,  not 
because  I  care  about  myself,  or  have  done  since  I  came  home.  And 
now  the  bell  begins  to  sound,  and  Mr.  Omer  and  another  come  to 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  169 

make  us  ready.  As  Peggotty  was  wont  to  tell  me,  long  ago,  the 
followers  of  my  father  to  the  same  grave  were  made  ready  in  the 
same  room. 

There  are  Mr.  Murdstone,  our  neighbour  Mr.  Grayper,  Mr.  Chillip, 
and  I.  When  we  go  out  to  the  door,  the  Bearers  and  their  load 
are  in  the  garden ;  and  they  move  before  us  down  the  path,  and 
past  the  elms,  and  through  the  gate,  and  into  the  church-yard  where 
I  have  so  often  heard  the  birds  sing  on  a  summer  morning. 

We  stand  around  the  grave.  The  day  seems  different  to  me  from 
every  other  day,  and  the  light  not  of  the  same  color — of  a  sadder 
color.  Now  there  is  a  solemn  hush,  which  we  have  brought  from 
home  with  what  is  resting  in  the  mould ;  and  while  we  stand  bare- 
headed, I  hear  the  voice  of  the  clergyman,  sounding  remote  in  the 
open  air,  and  yet  distinct  and  plain,  saying  :  "  I  am  the  Resurrection 
and  the  Life,  saith  the  Lord ! "  Then  I  hear  sobs ;  and,  stanchng 
apart  among  the  lookers-on,  I  see  that  good  and  faithful  servant, 
whom  of  all  the  people  upon  earth  I  love  the  best,  and  unto  whom 
my  childish  heart  is  certain  that  the  Lord  will  one  day  say  :  "  Well 
done." 

There  are  many  faces  that  I  know,  among  the  httle  crowd  ;  faces 
that  I  knew  in  church,  when  mine  was  always  wondering  there ; 
faces  that  first  saw  my  mother,  when  she  came  to  the  village  in  her 
youthful  bloom.  I  do  not  mind  them — I  mind  nothing  but  my 
grief — and  yet  I  see  and  know  them  all ;  and  even  in  the  back  • 
ground,  far  away,  see  Minnie  looking  on,  and  her  eye  glancing  on 
her  sweetheart,  who  is  near  me. 

It  is  over,  and  the  earth  is  filled  in,  and  we  turn  to  come  away. 
Before  us  stands  our  house,  so  pretty  and  unchanged,  so  linked  in 
ray  mind  with  the  young  idea  of  what  is  gone,  that  all  my  sorrow 
has  been  nothing  to  the  sorrow  it  calls  forth.  But  they  take  me  on ; 
and  ^fr.  ChilHp  talks  to  me ;  and  when  we  get  home,  puts  some 
water  to  my  Hps  ;  and  when  I  ask  his  leave  to  go  up  to  my  room, 
dismisses  me  with  the  gentleness  of  a  woman. 

All  this,  I  say,  is  yesterday's  event.  Events  of  later  date  have 
floated  from  me  to  the  shore  where  all  forgotten  things  will  reap- 
pear, but  this  stands  like  a  high  rock  in  the  ocean. 

I  knew  that  l^eggotty  would  come  to  me  in  my  room.     The  Sab 


170  DAVID    COrrERFIELD. 

bath  stillness  of  the  time  (the  day  was  so  like  Sunday  !  I  have  fc* 
gotten  that)  was  suited  to  us  both.  She  sat  down  by  my  side  upoi. 
my  httle  bed ;  and  holding  my  hand,  and  sometimes  putting  it  to 
her  lips,  and  sometimes  smoothing  it  with  hers,  as  she  might  have 
comforted  my  httle  brother,  told  me,  in  her  way,  all  that  she  had 
to  tell  concerning  what  had  happened. 

"  She  was  never  well,"  said  Peggotty,  "  for  a  long  time.  She 
was  uncertain  in  her  mind,  and  not  happy.  When  her  baby  was 
born,  I  thought  at  first  she  would  get  better,  but  she  was  more  deh- 
cate,  and  sunk  a  httle  every  day.  She  use<l  to  like  to  sit  alone 
before  her  baby  came,  and  then  she  cried  ;  but  afterwards  she  used 
to  sing  to  it — so  soft,  that  I  once  thought,  when  I  heard  her,  it  was 
,like  a  voice  up  in  the  air,  that  was  rising  away. 

"  I  think  she  got  to  be  more  timid,  and  more  frightened-like,  of 
late  ;  and  that  a  hard  word  was  hke  a  blow  to  her.  But  she  was 
always  the  same  to  me.  She  never  changed  to  her  foolish  Peggotty, 
didn't  my  sweet  girl." 

Here  Peggotty  stopped,  and  softly  beat  upon  my  hand  a  Httle 
while. 

"  The  last  time  that  I  saw  her  like  her  own  old  self,  was  the 
night  when  you  came  home,  my  dear.  The  day  you  went  away, 
she  said  to  me,  '  I  never  shall  see  my  pretty  darling  again.  Some- 
thing tells  me  so,  that  tells  the  truth,  I  know.' 

"  She  tried  to  hold  up  after  that ;  and  many  a  time,  when  they 
told  her  she  was  thoughtless  and  hght-hearted,  made  believe  to  be 
so  ;  but  it  was  all  a  bygone  then.  She  never  told  her  husband  what 
she  had  told  me — she  was  afraid  of  saying  it  to  anybody  else — till 
one  night,  a  httle  more  than  a  week  before  it  happened,  when  she 
said  to  him  :  '  My  dear,  I  think  I  am  dying.' 

"'It's  off  my  mind  now,  Peggotty,'  she  told  me,  when  I  laid  her 
in  her  bed  that  night.  '  He  will  beheve  it  more  and  more,  poor 
fellow,  every  day  for  a  few  days  to  come  ;  and  then  it  will  be  past. 
I  am  very  tired.  If  this  is  sleep,  sit  by  me  while  I  sleep :  don't 
leave  me.  God  bless  both  my  children !  God  protect  and  keep  my 
fatherless  boy !" 

"  I  never  left  her  afterwards,"  said  Peggotty.     "  She  often  talked 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  171 

to  them  two  down  stairs — for  she  loved  them ;  she  couldn't  bear  not 
to  lo\e  any  one  who  was  about  her — but  when  they  went  away  from 
her  belside,  she  always  turned  to  me,  as  if  there  was  rest  where 
Peggotty  was,  and  never  fell  asleep  in  any  other  way. 

"  On  the  last  night,  in  the  evening,  she  kissed  me,  and  said :  '  If 
my  baby  should  die  too,  Peggotty,  please  let  them  lay  him  in  my 
arms,  and  bury  us  together.'  (It  was  done  ;  for  the  poor  lamb  lived 
but  a  day  beyond  her.)  '  Let  my  dearest  boy  go  with  us  to  our 
resting-place,'  she  said,  '  and  tell  him  that  his  mother,  when  she  laj 
here,  blessed  him  not  once,  but  a  thousand  times.' " 

Another  silence  followed  this,  and  another  gentle  beating  on  my 
hand. 

"It  was  pretty  far  in  the  night,"  said  Peggotty,  "when  she  asked 
me  for  some  drink  ;  and  when  she  had  taken  it,  gave  me  such  a 
patient  smile,  the  dear  ! — so  beautiful  I — 

"  Daybreak  had  come,  and  the  sun  was  rising,  when  she  said  to 
me,  how  kind  and  considerate  Mr.  Copperfield  had  always  been  to 
her,  and  how  he  had  borne  with  her,  and  told  her,  when  she  doubt 
ed  herself,  that  a  loving  heart  was  better  and  stronger  than  wisdom, 
and  that  he  was  a  happy  man  in  hers.  '  Peggotty,  my  dear,'  she 
said  then,  '  put  me  nearer  to  you,'  for  she  was  very  weak.  '  Lay 
your  good  arm  underneath  my  neck,'  she  said, '  and  turn  me  to  you, 
for  your  face  is  going  far  off,  and  I  want  it  to  be  near.'  I  put  it  as 
she  asked  ;  and  oh  Davy !  the  time  had  come  when  my  first  parting 
words  to  you  were  true — when  she  was  glad  to  lay  her  poor  head  on 
her  stupid  cross  old  Peggotty's  arm — and  she  died  hke  a  child  that 
had  gone  to  sleep !" 

Thus  ended  Peggotty's  narration.  From  the  moment  of  my 
knowing  of  the  death  of  my  mother,  the  idea  of  her  as  she  had 
been  of  late  had  vanished  from  me.  I  remembered  her,  from  that 
instant,  only  as  the  young  mother  of  my  earliest  impressions,  who 
had  been  used  to  wind  her  bright  curls  round  and  lound  her  finger, 
and  to  dance  with  me  at  twilight  in  the  parlor.  What  Peggotty 
had  told  me  now,  was  so  far  from  bringing  me  back  to  the  Idter 
period,  that  it  rooted  the  earher  image  in  my  mind.     It  may  be 


172  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

curious,  but  it  is  true.     In  her  death  she  ringed  her  way  back  U> 
her  calm  untroubled  youth,  and  cancelled  all  the  rest. 

The  mother  who  lay  in  the  grave,  was  the  mother  of  my  infancy 
the  httle  creature  in  her  arms,  was  myself;  as  I  had  once  been, 
Qushed  for  ever  on  her  bosom. 


CHAPTER  X. 

I   BECOME    NEGLECTED,    AND    AM   PROVIDED    FOIl. 

The  first  act  of  business  Miss  Murdstone  performed  when  tlie  day 
of  the  solemnity  was  over,  and  hght  was  freely  admitted  into  the 
house,  was  to  give  Peggotty  a  month's  warning.  Much  as  Peggotty 
would  have  dishked  such  a  ser\'ice,  I  believe  she  would  have  retained 
it,  for  my  sake,  in  preference  to  the  best  upon  earth.  She  told  me 
we  must  part,  and  told  me  why ;  and  we  condoled  "with  one  another, 
in  all  sincerity. 

As  to  me  or  my  future,  not  a  word  was  said,  or  a  step  taken. 
Happy  they  would  have  been,  I  dare  say,  if  they  could  have  dis- 
missed me  at  a  month's  warning  too.  I  mustered  courage  once,  to 
ask  Miss  Murdstone  when  I  was  going  back  to  school ;  and  she 
answered  dryly,  she  beheved  I  was  not  going  back  at  all.  I  was 
told  nothing  more.  I  was  very  anxious  to  know  what  was  going  to 
be  done  with  me,  and  so  was  Peggotty  ;  but  neither  she  nor  I  could 
pick  up  any  information  on  the  subject. 

There  was  one  change  in  my  condition,  which,  while  it  relieved 
me  of  a  great  deal  of  present  uneasiness,  might  have  made  me,  if  I 
had  been  capable  of  considering  it  closely,  yet  more  uncomfortable 
about  the  future.  It  was  this.  The  constraint  that  had  been  put 
upon  me  was  quite  abandoned.  I  was  so  far  from  being  required  to 
keep  my  dull  post  in  the  parlor,  that  on  several  occasions,  when  I 
took  my  seat  there.  Miss  Murdstone  frowned  to  me  to  go  away.  I 
was  so  far  from  being  warned  off  from  Peggotty's  society,  that,  pro- 
vided I  was  not  in  Mr.  Murdstone's,  I  was  never  sought  out  or  in- 
quired for.  At  first  I  was  in  daily  dread  of  his  taking  my  education 
in  hand  again,  or  of  Miss  Murdstone's  devoting  herself  to  it ;  but  I 
soon  began  to  think  that  such  fears  were  groundless,  and  that  all  I 
had  to  anticipate  was  neglect. 

I  do  not  conceive  that  this  discovery  gave  me  nmch  pain  then.     I 

173 


174  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

was  still  giddy  with  the  shock  of  my  mother's  death,  and  in  a  kind 
of  stunned  state  as  to  all  tributary  things.  I  can  recollect,  indeed, 
to  have  speculated,  at  odd  times,  on  the  possibility  of  my  not  being 
taught  any  more,  or  cared  for  any  more  ;  and  growing  up  to  be  a 
shabby  moody  man,  lounging  an  idle  life  away,  about  the  village  ; 
as  well  as  on  the  feasibility  of  my  getting  rid  of  this  picture  by 
going  away  somewhere,  hke  the  hero  in  a  story,  to  seek  my  fortune : 
but  these  were  transient  visions,  day  dreams  I  sat  looking  at  some- 
times, as  if  they  were  faintly  painted  or  written  on  the  wall  of  my 
room,  and  which,  as  they  melted  away,  left  the  wall  blank  again. 

"  Peggotty,"  I  said  in  a  thoughtful  whisper,  one  evening,  when  I 
was  warming  my  hands  at  the  kitchen  &e,  "  Mr.  Murdstone  likes  me 
less  than  he  used  to.  He  never  liked  me  much,  Peggotty ;  but  he 
would  rather  not  even  see  me  now,  if  he  can  help  it." 

"  Perhaps  it 's  his  sorrow,"  said  Peggotty,  stroking  my  hair. 

"  I  am  sure,  Peggotty,  I  am  soiTy  too.  If  I  believed  it  was  his 
son-ow,  I  should  not  think  of  it  at  all.  But  it 's  not  that ;  oh,  no, 
it 's  not  that." 

"  How  do  you  know  it's  not  that  ? "  said  Peggotty,  after  a 
silence. 

"  Oh,  his  sorrow  is  another  and  quite  a  different  thing.  He  is 
sorry  at  this  moment,  sitting  by  the  fireside  mth  Miss  Murdstone  ; 
but  if  I  was  to  go  in,  Peggotty,  he  would  be  something  besides." 

"  What  would  he  be  ? "  said  Peggotty. 

"  Angry,"  I  answered,  with  an  involuntary  imitation  of  his  dark 
frown.  "  If  he  was  only  sorry,  he  wouldn't  look  at  me  as  he  does. 
/  am  only  sorry,  and  it  makes  me  feel  kinder." 

Peggotty  said  nothing  for  a  httle  while  ;  and  I  warmed  my  hands, 
as  silent  as  she. 

"  Davy,"  she  said  at  length. 

"Yes,  Peggotty?" 

"  I  have  tried,  my  dear,  all  ways  I  could  think  of — all  the  ways 
there  are,  and  aU  the  ways  there  ain't,  in  short — to  get  a  suitable 
ser\'ice  here,  in  Blunderstone ;  but  there's  no  such  a  thing,  my 
love." 

"  And  what  do  you  mean  to  do,  Peggotty  ? "  says  I,  wistfully 
"  Do  you  mean  to  go  and  seek  your  fortune  2 " 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  175 

"  I  expect  I  shall  be  forced  to  go  to  Yarmouth,"  replied  Peggotty, 
"  and  Hve  there." 

"  You  might  have  gone  farther  off,"  I  said,  brightening  a  little, 
"and  been  as  bad  as  lost.  I  shall  see  you  sometimes,  my  dear  old 
Peggotty,  there.  You  won't  be  quite  at  the  other  end  of  the  world, 
will  you  ? " 

"  Contrary  ways,  please  God  ! "  cried  Peggotty,  with  great  ani- 
mation. "  As  long  as  you  are  here,  my  pet,  I  shall  come  over 
every  week  of  my  life  to  see  you.  One  day,  every  week  of  my 
life!" 

I  felt  a  great  weight  taken  off  my  mind  by  this  promise  ;  but 
even  this  was  not  all,  for  Peggotty  went  on  to  say  : 

"  I'm  a  going,  Da\y,  you  see,  to  my  brother's,  first,  for  another 
fortnight's  visit — just  till  I  have  had  time  to  look  about  me,  and  get 
to  be  something  hke  myself  again.  Now,  I  have  been  thinking, 
that  perhaps,  as  they  don't  want  you  here  at  present,  you  might  be 
let  to  go  along  with  me." 

..  If  anything,  short  of  being  in  a  different  relation  to  every  one 
about  me,  Peggotty  excepted,  could  have  given  me  a  sense  of  plea- 
sure at  that  time,  it  would  have  been  this  project  of  all  others. 
The  idea  of  being  again  sun-ounded  by  those  honest  faces,  shining 
welcome  on  me  ;  of  renewing  the  peacefulness  of  the  sweet  Sunday 
moniing,  when  the  bells  were  ringing,  the  stones  dropping  in  the 
water,  and  the  shadowy  ships  breaking  through  the  mist ;  of  roaming 
up  and  down  with  httle  Em'ly,  telling  her  my  troubles,  and  finding 
charms  against  them  in  the  shells  and  pebbles  on  the  beach;  made 
a  calm  in  my  heart.  It  was  ruffled  next  moment,  to  be  sure,  by  a 
doubt  of  Miss  Murdstone's  giving  her  consent ;  but  even  that  was 
set  at  rest  soon,  for  she  came  out  to  take  an  evening  grope  in  the 
store-closet  while  we  were  yet  in  conversation,  and  Peggotty,  with  a 
boldness  that  amazed  me,  broached  the  topic  on  the  spot. 

"  The  boy  will  be  idle  there,"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  looking  into  a 
pickle-jar,  "  and  idleness  is  the  root  of  all  e^^l.  But,  to  be  sure,  he 
would  be  idle  here — or  anywhere,  in  my  opinion." 

Peggotty  had  an  angry  answer  ready,  I  could  see ;  but  she 
Bwallowed  it  for  my  sake,  and  remained  silent. 

"  Humph ! "  said  Miss  Murdstone,  still  keeping  her  eye  on  the 


176  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

pickles;  "it  is  of  more  importance  tlian  anything  else — ^it  is  of 
paramomit  importance — that  my  brother  should  not  be  distm-bed  or 
made  uncomfortable.     I  suppose  I  had  better  say  yes." 

I  thanked  her  without  making  any  demonstration  of  joy,  lest  it 
should  induce  her  to  withdraw  her  assent.  Nor  could  I  help  think- 
ing this  a  prudent  course,  when  she  looked  at  me  out  of  the  pickle- 
jar,  with  as  great  an  access  of  sourness  as  if  her  black  eyes  had 
absorbed  its  contents.  However,  the  permission  was  given,  and  was 
never  retracted  ;  for  when  the  month  was  out,  Peggotty  and  I  were 
ready  to  depart. 

Mr.  Barkis  came  into  the  house  for  Peggotty's  boxes.  I  had 
never  known  him  to  pass  the  garden-gate  before,  but  on  this  occa- 
sion he  came  into  the  house.  And  he  gave  me  a  look,  as  he 
shouldered  the  largest  box  and  went  out,  which  I  thought  had 
meaning  in  it,  if  meaning  could  ever  be  said  to  find  its  way  into  Mr. 
Barkis's  visage. 

Peggotty  was  naturally  in  low  spirits  at  leaving  what  had  been 
her  home  so  many  years,  and  where  the  two  strong  attachments  of 
her  life — for  my  mother  and  myself — had  been  formed.  She  had 
been  walking  in  the  churchyard,  too,  very  early ;  and  she  got  into 
the  cart,  and  sat  in  it  with  her  handkerchief  at  her  eyes. 

So  long  as  she  remained  in  this  condition  Mr.  Barkis  gave  no 
sign  of  hfe  whatever.  He  sat  in  his  usual  place  and  attitude,  like  a 
great  stuffed  figure.  But  when  she  began  to  look  about  her,  and  to 
speak  to  me,  he  nodded  his  head  and  grinned  several  times.  I  have 
not  the  least  notion  at  whom,  or  what  he  meant  by  it. 

"It's  a  beautiful  day,  Mr.  Barkis  !"  I  said,  as  an  act  of  politeness. 

"It  ain't  bad,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  who  generally  quahfied  his 
speech,  and  rarely  committed  himself. 

"  Peggotty  is  quite  comfortable  now,  Mr.  Barkis,"  I  remarked,  for 
his  satisfaction. 

"  Is  she,  though  !"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

After  reflecting  about  it,  wiih.  a  sagacious  air,  Mr.  Barkis  eyed 
her,  and  said : 

"  Are  you  pretty  comfortable  ?" 

Peggotty  laughed,  and  answered  in  the  affirmative. 

"  But   really   and   truly,   you   know.     Are   you  ?"  growled  Mr. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  177 

Barkis,  slidiug  nearer  to  her  on  tlie  seat,  and  nudging  her  with  his 
elbow.  "  Are  you  ?  Really  and  truly  pretty  comfortable  ?  Are  you  I 
Eh  ?"  At  each  of  these  inquiries  Mr.  Barkis  shuffled  nearer  to  her, 
and  gave  her  another  nudge  ;  so  that  at  last  we  were  all  crowded 
together  in  the  left-hand  corner  of  the  cart,  and  I  was  so  squeezed 
that  I  could  hardly  bear  it. 

Peggotty  calling  his  attention  to  my  sufferings,  Mr.  Barkis  gave 
me  a  little  more  room  at  once,  and  got  away  by  degrees.  But  I 
could  not  help  observing  that  he  seemed  to  think  he  had  hit  upon 
a  wonderfid  expedient  for  expressing  himself  in  a  neat,  agreeable, 
and  pointed  manner,  without  the  inconvenience  of  inventing  conver- 
sation. He  manifestly  chuckled  over  it  for  some  time.  By-and- 
by  he  tm-ned  to  Peggotty  again,  and  repeating,  "  Are  you  pretty 
comfortable  though  ?"  bore  down  upon  us  as  before,  until  the  breath 
was  nearly  wedged  out  of  my  body.  By-and-by  he  made  another 
descent  upon  us  with  the  same  inquiry,  and  the  same  result.  At 
length,  I  got  up  whenever  I  saw  him  coming,  and  standing  on  the 
foot-board,  pretended  to  look  at  the  prospect ;  after  which  I  did  very 
well. 

He  was  so  polite  as  to  stop  at  a  public-house,  expressly  on  our 
account,  and  entertain  us  with  broiled  mutton  and  beer.  Even  when 
Peggotty  was  in  the  act  of  drinking,  he  was  seized  with  one  of 
those  approaches,  and  almost  choked  her.  But  as  we  drew  nearer 
to  the  end  of  our  journey,  he  had  more  to  do  and  less  time  for 
gallantry ;  and  when  we  got  on  Yarmouth  pavement,  we  were  all 
too  much  shaken  and  jolted,  I  apprehend,  to  have  any  leisure  for 
anything  else. 

Mr.  Peggotty  and  Ham  waited  for  us  at  the  old  place.  They 
received  me  and  Peggotty  in  an  affectionate  manner,  and  shook 
hands  with  Mr.  Barkis,  who,  with  his  hat  on  the  very  back  of  his 
head,  and  a  shame-faced  leer  upon  his  countenance,  and  pervading 
liis  very  legs,  presented  but  a  vacant  appearance,  I  thought.  They 
each  took  one  of  Peggotty's  trunks,  and  we  were  going  away,  when 
Mr.  Barkis  solemnly  made  a  sign  to  me  with  his  forefinger  to  come 
under  an  archway. 

"  I  say,"  gi'owled  Mr.  Barkis,  "  it  was  all  right." 

11 


178  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  looked  up  into  his  face,  ani  answered,  witli  an  attempt  to  be 
very  profound  :  "  Oh  !" 

"  It  didn't  come  to  a  end  there,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  nodding  confi- 
dentially.    "  It  was  all  right." 

Again  I  answered  :  "  Oh !" 

"  You  know  who  was  willin',"  said  my  friend.  "  It  was  Barkis, 
and  Barkis  only." 

I  nodded  assent. 

"  It's  all  right,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  shaking  hands  ;  "  I'm  a  friend  of 
your'n.     You  made  it  all  right,  first.     It's  all  right." 

In  his  attempts  to  be  particularly  lucid,  Mr.  Barkis  was  so  ex- 
tremely mysterious,  that  I  might  have  stood  looking  in  his  face  for 
an  hour,  and  most  assuredly  should  have  got  as  much  information 
out  of  it  as  out  of  the  face  of  a  clock  that  had  stopped,  but  for  Peg- 
gotty's  calling  me  away.  As  we  were  going  along,  she  asked  me 
what  he  had  said  ;  and  I  told  her  he  had  said  it  was  all  right. 

"  Like  his  impudence,"  said  Peggotty,  "  but  I  don't  mind  that ! 
Davy  dear,  what  should  you  think  if  I  was  to  think  of  being 
married  ?" 

"  Why — I  suppose  you  would  like  me  as  much  then,  Peggotty, 
as  you  do  now  ?"  I  returned,  after  a  little  consideration. 

Greatly  to  the  astonishment  of  the  passengers  in  the  street,  as 
well  as  of  her  relations  going  on  before,  the  good  soul  was  obliged 
to  stop  and  embrace  me  on  the  spot,  with  many  protestations  of  her 
unalterable  love. 

"  Tell  me  what  should  you  say,  darhng  ?"  she  asked  again,  when 
this  was  over,  and  we  were  walking  on. 

"If  you  were  thinking  of  being  man-ied — to  Mr.  Barkis, 
Peggotty  ?" 

*•  Yes,"  said  Peggotty. 

"  I  should  think  it  would  be  a  very  good  thing.  For  then  you 
know,  Peggotty,  you  would  always  have  the  horse  and  cart  to  bring 
you  over  to  see  me,  and  could  come  for  nothing,  and  be  sure  of 
coming." 

"  The  sense  of  the  dear  !"  cried  Peggotty.  "  What  I  have  been 
vliinking  of,  this  month  back  !     Yes,  my  precious  ;  and  I  think  I 


DAVID    COPPEUFIELD.  179 

should  be  more  independent  altogether,  you  see  ;  let  alone  my 
working  with  a  better  heart  in  my  own  house,  than  I  could  in  any- 
body else's  now.  I  don't  know  what  I  might  be  fit  for,  now,  as  a 
servant  to  a  stranger.  And  I  shall  be  always  near  my  pretty's  rest- 
ing-place," said  Peggotty  musing,  "  and  able  to  see  it  when  I  hke  ; 
and  when  /  he  down  to  rest,  I  may  be  laid  not  far  off  from  my  dar- 
hng  girl !" 

We  neither  of  us  said  anything  for  a  little  while. 

"But  I  wouldn't  so  much  as  give  it  another  thought,"  said 
Peggotty,  cheerily,  "  if  my  Davy  was  anyways  against  it — not  if  I 
had  been  asked  in  church  thirty  times  three  times  over,  and  was 
wearing  out  the  ring  in  my  pocket." 

"  Look  at  me,  Peggotty,"  I  replied ;  "  and  see  if  I  am  not 
really  glad,  and  don't  truly  wish  it !"  As  indeed  I  did,  with  all  my 
heart. 

"  Well,  my  hfe,"  said  Peggotty,  giving  me  a  squeeze,  "  I  have 
thought  of  it  night  and  day,  every  way  I  can,  and  I  hope  the 
right  way  ;  but  I'll  think  of  it  again,  and  speak  to  my  brother  about 
it,  and  in  the  meantime  we'll  keep  it  to  ourselves,  Davy,  you  and 
me.  Barkis  is  a  good  plain  creetur',"  said  Peggotty,  "  and  if  I  tried 
to  do  my  duty  by  him,  I  think  it  would  be  my  fault  if  I  wasn't— if 
I  wasn't  pretty  comfortable,"  said  Peggotty,  laughing  heartily. 

This  quotation  from  Mr.  Barkis  was  so  appropriate,  and  tickled  us 
both  so  much,  that  we  laughed  again  and  again,  and  were  quite 
in  a  pleasant  humour  when  we  came  within  view  of  Mrs.  Peggotty's 
cottage. 

It  looked  just  the  same,  except  that  it  may,  perhaps,  have  shrunk 
a  little  in  my  eyes ;  and  Mrs.  Gummidge  was  waiting  at  the  door  as 
if  she  had  stood  there  ever  since.  All  within  was  the  same,  down 
to  the  seaweed  in  the  blue  mug  in  my  bedroom.  I  went  into  the 
out-house  to  look  about  me ;  and  the  very  same  lobsters,  crabs,  and 
crawfish  possessed  by  the  same  desire  to  pinch  the  world  m  general, 
appeared  to  be  in  the  same  state  of  conglomeration  in  the  same  old 
corner. 

But  there  was  no  little  Em'ly  to  be  seen,  so  I  asked  Mr.  Peggotty 
where  she  was. 

"  She  's  at  school,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  wiping  the  heat  con- 


180  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

sequent  on  the   porterage  of  Peggotty's  box  from  bis  foreliead 
"  she  '11  be  home,"  looking  at  the  Dutch  clock,  "  in  from  twenty 
minutes  to  half-an-hour's  time.     We  all  on  us  feel  the  loss  of  liei 
bless  ye  !" 

Mrs.  Gummido'e  moaned. 

"  Cheer  up,  Mawther  ! "  cried  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  I  feel  it  more  than  anybody  else,"  said  Mrs.  Gummidge  ;  "  I  'm  a 
lone  lorn  creetur',  and  she  used  to  be  a'most  the  only  think  that 
did'nt  go  contrairy  with  me." 

Mrs.  Gummidge,  whimpering  and  shaking  her  head,  applied  her- 
self to  blowing  the  fire.  Mr.  Peggotty,  looking  round  upon  us 
while  she  was  so  engaged,  said  in  a  low  voice,  which  he  shaded  with 
his  hand  :  "  The  old  'un  ! "  From  this  I  rightly  conjectured  that  no 
improvement  had  taken  place  since  my  last  visit  in  the  state  of  Mrs. 
Guramidge's  spirit. 

Now,  the  whole  place  was,  or  it  should  have  been,  quite  as 
delightful  a  place  as  ever ;  and  yet  it  did  not  impress  me  in  the 
same  way.  I  felt  rather  disappointed  with  it.  Perhaps  it  was  be- 
cause httle  Em'ly  was  not  at  home.  I  knew  the  way  by  which  she 
would  come,  and  presently  found  myself  strolhng  along  the  path  to 
meet  her. 

A  figure  appeared  in  the  distance  before  long,  and  I  soon  knew  it 
to  be  Em'ly,  who  was  a  little  creature  still  in  stature,  though  she 
was  grown.  But  when  she  drew  nearer,  and  I  saw  her  blue  eyes 
looking  bluer,  and  her  dimpled  face  looking  brighter,  and  her  whole 
self  prettier  and  gayer,  a  curious  feeling  cames  over  me  that  made 
me  pretend  not  to  know  her,  and  pass  by  as  if  I  were  looking  at 
something  a  long  way  off.  I  have  done  such  a  thing  since  in  later 
hfe,  or  I  am  mistaken. 

Little  Em'ly  didn't  care  a  bit.  She  saw  me  well  enough  ;  but  in- 
stead of  turning  round  and  calhng  after  me,  ran  away  laughing. 
This  obliged  me  to  run  after  her,  and  she  ran  so  fast  that  we  were 
very  near  the  cottage  before  I  caught  her. 

"Oh,  it's  you,  is  it?" said  little  Em'ly. 

"  Why,  you  knew  who  it  was,  Em'ly,"  said  I. 

"  And  (i'dn't  you  know  who  it  was  ?"  said  Em'ly.  I  was  going  to 
kiss  lier  but  she  covered  her  cherry  lips  with  her  hands,  and  said 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  181 

she  wasn't  a  baby,  now,  and  ran  away,  laughing  more  than  ever,  into 
the  house. 

She  seemed  to  delio-ht  in  teasino^  me,  which  was  a  chans-e  in  hor 
I  "SYondered  at  ver}^  much.  The  tea-table  was  ready,  and  our  little 
locker  was  put  out  in  its  old  place,  but  instead  of  coming  to  sit  by  me, 
she  went  and  bestowed  her  company  upon  that  grumbling  Mrs. 
Gummidge  :  and  on  Mr.  Peggotty's  inquiring  why,  rumpled  her  hair 
all  over  her  face  to  hide  it,  and  would  do  nothinor  but  lauo-h. 

"  A  little  puss,  it  is  !"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  patting  her  with  his  great 
hand. 

"  So  sh'  is  !  so  sh'  is  !"  cried  Ham.  "  Mas'r  Davy  bo',  so  sh'  is  !" 
and  he  sat  and  chuckled  at  her  for  some  time  in  a  state  of  mingled 
admiration  and  deliofht,  that  made  his  face  a  burninor  red. 

Little  Em'ly  was  spoiled  by  them  all,  in  fact ;  and  by  no  one  more 
than  Mr.  Peggotty  himself,  whom  she  could  have  coaxed  into  any- 
thing, by  only  going  and  laying  her  cheek  against  his  rough  whisker 
That  was  my  opinion,  at  least,  when  I  saw  her  do  it ;  and  I  held  Mr. 
Peggotty  to  be  thoroughly  in  the  right.  But  she  was  so  affectionate 
and  sweet-natured,  and  had  such  a  pleasant  manner  of  being  both 
sly  and  shy  at  once,  that  she  captivated  me  more  than  ever. 

She  was  tender-hearted,  too  ;  for  when,  as  we  sat  round  the  fire 
after  tea,  an  allusion  was  made  by  Mr.  Peggotty  over  his  pipe  to  the 
loss  I  had  sustained,  the  tears  stood  in  her  eyes,  and  she  looked  at 
me  so  kindly  across  the  table,  that  I  felt  quite  thankful  r,o  her. 

"  Ah  !"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  taking  up  her  curls,  and  running  them 
over  his  hand  like  water,  "  here  's  another  orphan,  you  see,  sir.  And 
here,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  gixnug  Ham  a  back-handed  knock  in  the 
chest,  "  is  another  of  'em,  though  he  don't  look  much  like  it." 

"  If  I  had  you  for  my  guardian,  Mr.  Peggotty,"  said  I,  shaking 
my  head,  "  I  don't  think  I  should  feel  much  hke  it." 

"  Well  said,  Mas'r  Davy  bo' ! "  cried  Ham,  in  an  ecstasy. 
"  Hoorah  !  Well  said  !  Nor  more  you  wouldn't !  Hor !  Hor  !" — ■ 
Here  he  returned  Mr.  Peggotty's  back-hander,  and  httle  Em'ly  go* 
up  and  kissed  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"  And  how  's  your  fiiend,  sir  ? "  said  Mr.  Peggotty  to  mo. 

"Steerforth?"saidI. 


182  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  That 's  tlie  name  !"  cried  Mr.  Pc'ggotty,  turning  to  Ham.  "  I 
kaowed  it  was  something  in  our  way." 

"  You  said  it  was  Rudderford,"  observed  Ham,  laughing. 
"  Well  ?  "  retorted  Mr.  Peggotty.     "  And  ye  steer  with  a  rudder, 
lon't  ye  ?     It  ain't  fur  off.     How  is  he,  sir  ?  " 

"  He  was  very  well  indeed  when  I  came  away,  Mr.  Peggotty." 

"  There's  a  fi-iend !  "  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  stretching  out  his  pipe. 
'*  There's  a  friend,  if  you  talk  of  friends  !  Why,  Lord  love  my  heart 
alive,  if  it  ain't  a  treat  to  look  at  him ! " 

"  He  is  very  handsome,  is  he  not  ? "  said  I,  my  heart  warming  with 
this  praise. 

"  Handsome !  "  cried  Mr.  Peggotty.  "  He  stands  up  to  you  like — 
(ike  a — why  I  don't  know  what  he  donH  stand  up  to  you  hke.  He's 
so  bold ! " 

"  Yes !  That's  just  his  character,"  said  I.  "  He's  as  brave  as  a 
Hon,  and  you  can't  think  how  frank  he  is,  Mr.  Peggotty." 

"And  I  do  suppose  now,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  looking  at  me  through 
tlie  smoke  of  his  pipe,  "  that  in  the  way  of  book-learning  he'd  take 
the  wind  out  of  a'most  anything." 

"  Yes,"  said  I,  delighted  ;  "  he  knows  everything.  He  is  astonish- 
ingly clever." 

"  There's  a  friend  I "  murmured  Mr.  Peggotty,  with  a  grave  toss 
of  his  head. 

"  Nothing  seems  to  cost  him  any  trouble,"  said  I.  "  He  knows  a 
task  if  he  only  looks  at  it.  He  is  the  best  cricketer  you  ever  saw. 
He  will  give  you  almost  as  many  men  as  you  like  at  di-aughts,  and 
beat  you  easily." 

Mr.  Peggotty  gave  his  head  another  toss,  as  much  as  to  say  :  "  Of 
course  he  will," 

"  He  is  such  a  speaker,"  I  pursued,  "  that  he  can  win  anybody 
over ;  and  I  don't  know  what  you'd  say  if  you  were  to  hear  him 
sing,  Mr.  Peggotty." 

Mr.  Peggotty  gave  his  head  another  toss,  as  much  as  to  say :  "  I 
have  no  doubt  of  it." 

"Then,  he's  such  a  generous,  fine,  noble  fellow,"  said  I,  quite 
carried  away  by  my  favorite  theme,  "  that  it's  hardly  possible  to  give 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  183 

him  as  much  praise  as  he  deserves.  I  am  sire  I  can  never  feel 
thankful  enoun;h  for  the  generosity  with  which  he  has  protected  me, 
so  much  youuger  and  lower  in  the  school  than  himself." 

I  was  ruunini;  on,  ^"ery  fast  indeed,  when  my  eyes  rested  on  little 
Em'ly's  face,  which  was  bent  foi'ward  over  the  table,  listening  witli 
the  deepest  attention,  her  breath  held,  her  blue  eyes  sparkling  like 
jewels,  and  the  colour  mantling  in  her  cheeks.  She  looked  so  extra- 
ordinarily earnest  and  pretty,  that  I  stopped  in  a  sort  of  wonder ; 
and  they  all  observed  her  at  the  same  time,  for,  as  I  stopped,  they 
laughed  and  looked  at  her. 

"  Em'ly  is  hke  me,"  said  Peggotty,  "  and  would  like  to  see  him.' 

Em'ly  was  confused  by  our  all  observing  her,  and  hung  down  her 
head,  and  her  face  was  covered  with  blushes.  Glancing  up 
presently  through  her  stray  curls,  and  seeing  that  we  were  all 
looking  at  her  still  (  I  am  sure,  I,  for  one,  could  have  looked  at  her 
for  hours),  she  ran  away,  and  kept  away  till  it  was  nearly  bed- 
time. 

I  lay  down  in  the  old  httle  bed  in  the  stem  of  the  boat,  and  the 
wind  came  moaning  on  across  the  flat  as  it  had  done  before.  But  I 
could  not  help  fancying,  now,  that  it  moaned  of  those  who  were 
gone ;  and  instead  of  thinking  that  the  sea  might  rise  in  the  night 
and  float  the  boat  away,  I  thought  of  the  sea  that  had  risen,  since  I 
last  heard  those  sounds,  and  drowned  my  happy  home.  I  recollect, 
as  the  -wind  and  water  began  to  sound  fainter  in  my  eai*s,  putting  a 
ehort  clause  in  my  prayers,  petitioning  that  I  might  grow  up  to 
marry  little  Em'ly,  and  so  dropping  lovingly  asleep. 

The  days  passed  pretty  much  as  they  had  passed  before,  except — 
it  was  a  great  exception — that  httle  Em'ly  and  I  seldom  wandered 
on  the  beach  now.  She  had  tasks  to  learn,  and  needlework  to  do ; 
and  was  absent  during  a  great  part  of  eiich  day.  But  I  felt  that  we 
should  not  have  had  those  old  wanderings,  even  if  it  had  been  other- 
wise. Wild  and  full  of  childish  whims  as  Em'ly  was,  she  was  more 
of  a  httle  woman  than  I  had  sup])osed.  She  seemed  to  have  got  a 
great  distance  away  from  me,  in  little  more  than  a  year.  She  liked 
me,  but  she  laughed  at  me,  and  tormented  me ;  and  when  I  went 
to  meet  her,  stole  home  another  way,  and  was  laugh'ng  at  the  door 


184  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

wlien  I  came  bacK  disappointed.  The  I /est  times  were  -wlion  she  sa 
quietly  at  work  in  the  doorway,  and  I  sat  on  the  wooden  steji  at  hei 
feet,  reading  to  her.  It  seems  to  me,  at  this  horn',  that  I  ha^e  never 
seen  such  sunhght  as  on  those  bright  April  afternoons  ;  that  I  have 
never  seen  such  a  sunny  httle  figure  as  I  used  to  see,  sitting  in  tlia 
doorway  of  the  old  boat ;  that  I  have  never  beheld  such  sky,  such 
water,  such  glorified  ships  sailing  away  into  golden  air. 

On  the  very  fii-st  evening  after  our  arrival,  Mr.  Barkis  appeared  in 
an  exceedingly  vacant  and  awkward  condition,  and  with  a  bundle  of 
oranges  tied  up  in  a  handkerchief.  As  he  made  no  allusion  of  any 
kind  to  this  property,  he  was  supposed  to  have  left  it  behind  him  by 
accident  when  he  went  away ;  until  Ham,  running  after  him  to  restoi-o 
it,  came  back  with  the  information  that  it  was  intended  for  Peggotty. 
After  that  occasion  he  appeared  every  evening  at  exactly  the  same 
hour,  and  always  with  a  httle  bundle,  to  which  he  never  alluded,  and 
which  he  regularly  put  behind  the  door,  and  left  there.  These 
offerings  of  aflfection  were  of  a  most  various  and  eccentric  description. 
Among  them  I  remember  a  double  set  of  pig's  trotters,  a  huge  pin- 
cushion, half  a  bushel  or  so  of  apples,  a  pair  of  jet  earrings,  some 
Spanish  onions,  a  box  of  dominoes,  a  canary  bird  and  cage,  and  a  leg 
of  pickled  pork. 

Mr.  Barkis's  wooing,  as  I  remember  it,  was  altogether  of  a  peculiar 
kind.  He  very  seldom  said  anything  ;  but  would  sit  by  the  fire  in 
much  the  same  attitude  as  he  sat  in,  in  his  cart,  and  stare  heavily 
at  Peggotty,  who  was  opposite.  One  night,  being,  as  I  suppose, 
inspired  by  love,  he  made  a  dart  at  the  bit  of  wax-candle  she  kept 
for  her  thread,  and  put  it  in  his  waistcoat-pocket  and  carried  it  off. 
After  that,  his  great  delight  was  to  produce  it  when  it  was  wanted, 
sticking  to  the  lining  of  his  pocket,  in  a  partially-melted  state,  and 
pocket  it  again  when  it  was  done  with.  He  seemed  to  enjoy  himself 
very  much,  and  not  to  feel  at  all  called  upon  to  talk.  Even  when  he 
took  Peggotty  out  for  a  walk  on  the  flats,  he  had  no  uneasiness  on 
that  head,  I  believe  ;  contenting  himself  with  now  and  then  askii^g 
her  if  she  was  pretty  comfortable ;  and  I  remember  that  sometimes, 
after  he  was  gone,  Peggotty  would  throw  her  apron  over  her  face, 
and  laugh  for  half-an-hour.     Indeed,  we  wcire  all  more  or  less  amused, 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  185 

except  that  miserable  Mi-s.  Giimmidge,  whose  courtship  would  ap- 
pear to  have  been  of  an  exactly  parallel  nature,  she  was  so  con- 
tinually reminded  by  these  transactions  of  the  old  one. 

At  length,  when  the  terra  of  my  visit  was  nearly  expired,  it  was 
given  out  that  Peggotty  and  Mr.  Barkis  were  going  to  make  a  day's 
holiday  together,  and  that  httle  Em'ly  and  I  were  to  accompany 
them.  I  had  but  a  broken  sleep  the  night  before,  in  anti':-ipation  of 
the  pleasure  of  a  whole  day  with  Em'ly.  We  were  all  astir  betimes 
in  the  morning ;  and  while  w^e  were  yet  at  breakfast,  Mr.  Barkis 
appeared  in  the  distance,  driving  a  chaise-cart  towards  the  object  of 
his  affections. 

Peggotty  was  drest  as  usual,  in  her  neat  and  quiet  mourning; 
but  Mr.  Barkis  bloomed  in  a  new  blue  coat,  of  which  the  tailor  had 
given  him  such  good  measure,  that  the  cuffs  would  have  rendered 
gloves  unnecessary  in  the  coldest  weather,  while  the  collar  was  so 
high  that  it  pushed  his  hair  up  on  end  on  the  top  of  his  head.  His 
bright  buttons,  too,  were  of  the  largest  size.  Rendered  complete  by 
di'ab  pantaloons  and  a  buff  waistcoat,  I  thought  Mr.  Barkis  a  pheno- 
menon of  respectability. 

.  When  we  were  all  in  a  bustle  outside  the  door,  I  found  that 
Mr.  Peggotty  "was  prepared  with  an  old  shoe,  which  was  to  be 
tlirowu  after  us  for  luck,  and  which  he  offered  to  Mrs.  Gummidge 
for  that  purpose. 

"  No.  It  had  better  be  done  by  somebody  else,  Dan'l,"  said 
Mrs.  Gummidge.  "  I'm  a  lone  lorn  creetur'  myself,  and  ever}^think 
that  reminds  me  of  creetur's  that  ain't  lone  and  lorn,  goes  contrairy 
with  me." 

"  Come,  old  gal !"  cried  Mr.  Peggotty.     "  Take  and  heave  it !" 
"  No,  Dan'l,"  returned  Mrs.  Gummidge,  whimpering  and  shaking 
her  head.     "  If  I  felt  less,  I  could  do  more.     You  don't  feel  like  me, 
Dan'l ;  thinks  don't  go  contrairy  with  you,  nor  you  with  them ;  you 
had  better  do  it  yourself." 

But  here  I^eggotty,  who  had  been  going  about  from  one  to  an- 
other in  a  humed  way,  kissing  everybody,  called  out  from  the  cart, 
in  which  we  all  were  by  this  time  (Em'ly  and  I  on  two  little  chaire, 
side  by  side),  that  Mrs.  Gummidge  must  do  it.  So  Mi-s.  Gummidge 
did  it ;  and,  I  am  sorry  to  relate,  cast  a  damp  upon  the  festive  cha- 


186  BaVID     COrrERFIELD. 

racter  of  our  departure,  by  immediately  bursting  into  tears,  and  sink- 
ino-  subdued  into  the  arms  of  Ham,  Avith  the  declaration  that  she 
knowed  she  was  a  burden,  and  had  better  be  carried  to  the  House 
at  once.  Which  I  really  thought  was  a  sensible  idea,  that  Ham 
might  have  acted  on. 

Away  w^e  went,  however,  on  our  holiday  excursion :  and  the  first 
thing  we  did  was  to  stop  at  a  church,  where  Mr.  Barkis  tied  the 
hoi*se  to  some  'rails,  and  went  in  with  Peggotty,  leaving  httle  Em'ly 
and  me  alone  in  the  chaise.  I  took  that  occasion  to  put  my  arm 
round  Em'ly's  waist,  and  propose  that  as  I  was  going  away  so  very 
soon  now,  we  should  determine  to  be  very  affectionate  to  one  another, 
and  very  happy,  all  day.  Little  Em'ly  consenting,  and  allowing  me 
to  kiss  her,  I  became  desperate ;  informing  her,  I  recollect,  that  I 
never  could  love  another,  and  that  I  was  prepared  to  shed  the  blood 
of  anybody  who  should  aspire  to  her  affections. 

How  meny  little  Em'ly  made  herself  about  it !  With  what  a 
demure  assumption  of  being  immensely  older  and  wiser  than  I,  the 
fairly  little  woman  said  I  was  "  a  silly  boy ;"  and  then  laughed  so 
charmingly  that  I  forgot  the  pain  of  being  called  by  that  disparaging 
name,  in  the  pleasure  of  looking  at  her. 

Mr.  Barkis  and  Peggotty  were  a  good  while  in  the  church,  but 
came  out  at  last,  and  then  we  drove  away  into  the  country.  As  we 
were  going  along,  Mr.  Barkis  turned  to  me,  and  said,  with  a  vdnk, — 
by  the  by,  I  should  hardly  have  thought,  before,  that  he  could 
wink : 

"  What  name  was  it  as  I  wrote  up  in  the  cart  ?" 
"  Clara  Peggotty,"  I  answered. 

"  What  name  would  it  be  as  I  should  write  up  now,  if  there  was 
a  tilt  here  ?" 

"  Clara  Peggotty,  again  ?"  I  suggested. 

"  Clara  Peggotty  Barkis  !"  he  returned,  and  burst  into  a  roar  of 
laughter  that  shook  the  chaise. 

In  a  word,  they  were  married,  and  had  gone  into  the  church  for 
no  other  purpose.  Peggotty  was  resolved  that  it  should  be  quietly 
done ;  and  the  clerk  had  given  her  away,  and  there  had  been  no 
witnessi'is  of  the  ceremony.  She  was  a  little  confused  when  Mr. 
Barkis  made  this  abrupt  announcement  of  their  union,  and  could 


o 


OF  THE 
DIVERSITY  OF  ILLINOIS 


DAVID     COrrERFIELD.  187 

not  hug  me  enough  in  token  of  her  unimpaired  affection  ;  but 
she  soon  became  herself  again,  and  said  she  was  very  glad  it  was 
over. 

We  drove  to  a  little  inn  in  a  bye  road,  where  we  were  expected,  and 
where  we  had  a  very  comfortable  dinner,  and  passed  the  day  with 
great  satisfaction.  If  Peggotty  had  been  married  every  day  for  the 
last  ten  years,  she  could  hardly  have  been  more  at  her  ease  about  it ; 
it  made  no  sort  of  difference  in  her  :  she  was  just  the  same  as  ever, 
and  went  out  for  a  stroll  with  little  Em'ly  and  me  before  tea,  while 
Mr.  Barkis  philosophically  smoked  his  pipe,  and  enjoyed  himself,  I 
suppose,  with  the  contemplation  of  his  happiness.  If  so,  it  sharp- 
ened his  appetite ;  for  I  distinctly  call  to  mind  that,  although  he 
had  eaten  a  good  deal  of  pork  and  greens  at  dinner,  and  had  finished 
off  with  a  fowl  or  two,  he  was  obliged  to  have  cold  boiled  bacon  for 
tea,  and  disposed  of  a  large  quantity  without  any  emotion. 

I  have  often  thought,  since,  what  an  odd,  innocent,  out-of-the-way 
kind  of  wedding  it  must  have  been  !  We  got  into  the  chaise  again 
Boon  after  dark,  and  di'ove  cosily  back,  looking  up  at  the  stars,  and 
talking  about  them.  I  was  their  chief  exponent,  and  opened  ^Ir. 
Barkis's  mind  to  an  amazing  extent.  I  told  him  all  I  knew,  but  he 
would  have  believed  anything  I  might  have  taken  it  into  my  head  to 
impart  to  him  ;  for  he  had  a  profound  veneration  for  my  abilities, 
and  informed  his  wife  in  my  hearing,  on  that  very  occasion,  that  I 
was  "  a  young  Roeshus" — by  which  I  think  he  meant,  prodigy. 

W'hen  we  had  exhausted  the  subject  of  the  stare,  or  rather  when 
L  had  exhausted  the  mental  faculties  of  Mr.  Barkis,  httle  Em'ly  and 
[  made  a  cloak  of  an  old  wrapper,  and  sat  under  it  for  the  rest  of  the 
journey.  Ah,  how  I  loved  her  !  W^hat  happiness  (I  thought)  if  we 
were  married,  and  were  going  away  anywhere  to  hve  among  the 
trees  and  in  the  fields,  never  growing  older,  never  growing  wiser, 
children  ever,  rambling  hand  in  hand  through  sunshine  and  among 
flowery  meadows,  laying  dowjti  our  heads  on  moss  at  night,  in  a 
sweet  sleep  of  purity  and  peace,  and  buried  by  the  birds  when  we 
were  dead  !  Some  such  picture,  with  no  real  world  in  it,  bright  with 
the  hght  of  our  innocence,  and  vague  as  the  stars  afar  oflf,  was  in  my 
mind  all  the  way.  I  am  glad  to  think  there  wore  two  stch  guileless 
lieai-ts  at  Peggotty's  marrijige  as  httle  Eui'ly's  and  mine.     I  am  glad 


188  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

to  think  the  Loves  and  Graces  took  such  airy  forms  in  its  homely 
procession. 

Well,  we  came  to  the  old  boat  again  in  good  time  at  night  ;  and 
there  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Barkis  bade  us  good  bye,  and  drove  away  snugly 
to  their  own  home.  I  felt  then,  for  the  first  time,  that  I  had  lost 
Peggotty.  I  should  have  gone  to  bed  with  a  sore  heart  indeed 
under  any  other  roof  but  that  which  sheltered  little  Em'ly's  head, 

Mr.  Peggotty  and  Ham  knew  what  was  in  my  thoughts  as  well 
as  I  did,  and  were  ready  with  some  supper  and  their  hospitable  faces 
to  drive  it  away.  Little  Em'ly  came  and  sat  beside  me  on  the 
locker,  for  the  only  time  in  all  that  visit ;  and  it  was  altogether  a 
wonderful  close  to  a  wonderful  day. 

It  was  a  night  tide  ;  and  soon  after  we  went  to  bed,  Mr.  Peggotty 
and  Ham  went  out  to  fish.  I  felt  very  brave  at  being  left  alone  in 
the  solitary  house,  the  [)rotector  of  Emily  and  Mrs.  Gum  midge,  and 
only  wished  that  a  lion  or  a  serpent,  or  any  ill-disposed  monster, 
would  make  an  attack  upon  us,  that  I  might  destroy  him,  and  cover 
myself  with  glory.  But  as  nothing  of  the  sort  happened  to  be 
walking  about  on  Yarmouth  flats  that  night,  I  provided  the  best  sub- 
stitute I  could  by  dreaming  of  dragons  until  morning. 

With  morning  came  Peggotty  ;  who  called  to  me,  as  usual,  under 
my  window  as  if  Mr.  Barkis  the  carrier  had  been  from  first  to  last  a 
dream  too.  After  breakfast  she  took  me  to  her  own  home,  and  a 
beautiful  httle  home  it  was.  Of  all  the  moveables  in  it,  I  must  have 
been  most  impressed  by  a  certain  old  bureau  of  some  dark  wood  in 
tlie  parlor  (the  tile-floored  kitchen  was  the  general  sitting-room),  with 
a  retreating  top  which  opened,  let  down,  and  became  a  desk,  within 
which  was  a  large  quarto  edition  of  Fox's  Book  of  Martyrs.  This 
precious  volume,  of  which  I  do  not  recollect  one  word,  I  immediately 
discovered  and  immediately  applied  myself  to ;  and  I  never  visited 
the  house  afterwards,  but  I  kneeled  on  a  chair,  o|)ened  the  casket 
where  this  gem  was  enshrined,  spread  my  arms  over  the  desk,  and 
fell  to  devouring  the  book  afresh.  I  was  chiefly  edified,  I  am  afraid, 
by  the  pictures,  which  were  numerous,  and  represented  all  kinds  of 
dismal  horrors ;  but  the  Martyrs  and  Peggotty's  house  ha^e  been 
inseparable  in  my  mind  ever  since,  and  are  now. 

I  took  leave  of  Mr.  Peggotty,  and  Ham,  and.  Mrs.  Guramidge,  mid 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  189 

Kttle  Em'ly,  that  day;  and  passed  the  night  at  Peggotty's,  in  a 
little  room  in  the  roof  (with  the  crocodile-book  on  a  snelf  by  the 
bed's  head)  which  was  to  be  always  mine,  Peggotty  said,  and  should 
always  be  kept  for  me  in  exactly  the  same  state. 

"  Young  or  old,  Davy  dear,  as  long  as  I  am  alive  and  have  this 
house  over  ray  head,"  said  Peggotty,  "  you  shall  find  it  as  if  I  ex- 
pected you  here  directly  every  minute.  I  shall  keep  it  every  day,  as 
I  used  to  keep  your  old  little  room,  my  darhng ;  and  if  you  was  to 
go  to  China,  you  might  think  of  it  as  being  kept  just  the  same,  all 
the  time  you  were  away." 

I  felt  the  truth  and  constancy  of  my  dear  old  nui-se,  with  all  my 
heart,  and  thanked  her  as  well  as  I  could.  That  was  not  very  well, 
for  she  spoke  to  me  thus,  with  her  arms  round  my  neck,  in  the 
morning,  and  I  was  going  home  in  the  morning,  and  I  went  home 
in  the  morning,  with  hei'self  and  Mr.  Barkis  in  the  cart.  They  left 
me  at  the  gate,  not  easily  or  lightly  ;  and  it  was  a  strange  sight  to 
me  to  see  the  cart  go  on,  taking  Peggotty  away,  and  leaving  me 
under  the  old  elm-trees  looking  at  the  house,  in  which  there  was  no 
face  to  look  on  mine  with  love  or  liking  any  more. 

And  now  I  fell  into  a  state  of  neglect,  which  I  cannot  look  back 
upon  without  compassion.  I  fell  at  once  into  a  solitary  condition, — 
apart  fi-om  all  fi-iendly  notice,  apart  fi-om  the  society  of  all  other  boys 
of  my  own  age,  apart  from  all  companionship  but  my  own  spirit- 
less thoughts, — which  seems  to  cast  its  gloom  upon  this  paper  as  I 
write. 

What  would  I  have  given,  to  have  been  sent  to  the  hardest  school 
that  ever  was  kept ! — to  have  been  taught  something,  anyhow,  any- 
where !  No  such  hope  dawned  upon  me.  They  dishked  me  ;  and 
they  sullenly,  sternly,  steadily,  overlooked  me.  I  think  Mr.  Murd- 
stone's  means  were  straitened  at  about  this  time ;  but  it  is  little  to  the 
purpose.  He  could  not  bear  me  ;  and  in  putting  me  from  him  he 
tried,  as  I  believe,  to  put  away  the  notion  that  I  had  any  claim  upon 
him — and  succeeded. 

I  was  not  actively  ill-used.  I  was  not  beaten,  or  starved ;  but  the 
wrong  that  was  done  to  me  had  no  intervals  of  relenting,  and  was  done 
in  a  systematic,  passionless  manner.  Day  after  day,  week  after 
week,  month  after  month,  1  was  coldly  neglected.     I  wonder  some- 


190  DAVID    COrPERFIELD. 

times,  wlien  I  tliink  of  it,  -^liat  they  would  have  done  if  I  had  been 
taken  with  an  illness ;  whether  I  should  have  lain  down  in  my  lonely 
room,  and  languished  through  it  in  my  usual  solitary  way,  or 
whether  anybody  would  have  helped  me  out. 

A\Tien  Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  were  at  home,  I  took  my  meals 
with  them ;  in  their  absence,  I  ate  and  drank  by  myself.  At  all 
times  I  lounged  about  the  house  and  neighbourhood  quite  disregard- 
ed, except  that  they  were  jealous  of  my  making  any  friends  :  think- 
ing, perhaps,  that,  if  I  did,  I  might  complain  to  some  one.  For  this 
reason,  though  ISir.  Chilhp  often  asked  me  to  go  and  see  him  (he 
was  a  widower,  having,  some  years  before  that,  lost  a  little  hght- 
haired  wife,  whom  I  can  just  remember  connecting  in  my  own 
thoughts  with  a  pale  tortoise-shell  cat),  it  was  but  seldom  that  I  en- 
joyed the  happiness  of  passing  an  afternoon  in  his  closet  of  a  sur- 
gery ;  reading  some  book  that  was  new  to  me,  with  the  smell  of  the 
whole  pharmacopoeia  coming  up  my  nose,  or  pounding  something  in 
a  mortar  under  his  mild  directions. 

For  the  same  reason,  added  no  doubt  to  the  old  dislike  of  her,  1 
was  seldom  allowed  to  visit  Peggotty.  Faithful  to  her  promise,  she 
either  came  to  see  me,  or  met  me  somewhere  near,  once  every  week, 
and  never  empty-handed  ;  but  many  and  bitter  were  the  disappoint- 
ments I  had,  in  being  refused  permission  to  pay  a  visit  to  her  at  her 
house.  Some  few  times,  however,  at  long  intervals,  I  was  allowed 
to  go  there  ;  and  then  I  found  out  that  Mr.  Barkis  was  something 
of  a  miser,  or  as  Peggotty  dutifully  expressed  it,  was  "  a  little  near," 
and  kept  a  heap  of  money  in  a  box  under  his  bed,  which  he  pre- 
tended was  only  full  of  coats  and  trousers.  In  this  coffer,  his  riches 
hid  themselves  with  such  a  tenacious  modesty,  that  the  smallest  in- 
stalments could  only  be  tempted  out  by  artifice ;  so  that  Peggotty 
had  to  prepare  a  long  and  elaborate  scheme,  a  very  Gunpowder 
Plot,  for  every  Saturday's  expenses. 

AU  this  time  I  was  so  conscious  of  the  waste  of  any  promise  I  had 
given,  and  of  my  being  utterly  neglected,  that  I  should  have  been 
perfectly  miserable,  I  have  no  doubt,  but  foi  the  old  books.  They 
were  my  only  comfort ;  and  I  was  as  true  t?  them  as  they  were  to 
me,  and  read  them  over  and  ovei  I  don't  know  how  many  times 
mr're. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  191 

I  now  approach  a  period  of  my  life,  which  a.  can  never  lose  the 
remembrance  of,  while  I  remember  anything ;  and  the  recollection 
of  which  has  often,  without  my  invocation,  come  l5efore  me  like  a 
ghost,  and  haunted  happier  times. 

I  had  been  out,  one  day,  loitering  somewhere,  in  the  listless, 
meditative  manner  that  my  way  of  life  engendered,  when,  turning 
the  corner  of  a  lane  near  our  house,  I  came  upon  Mr.  Murdstone 
walking  with  a  gentleman.  I  was  confused,  and  was  going  by  them, 
when  the  gentleman  cried : 

"  ^^^lat !  Brooks  !" 

"  No,  sir,  David  Copperfield,"  I  said. 

"  Don't  tell  me.  You  are  Brooks,"  said  the  gentleman.  "  You 
are  Brooks  of  Sheffield.     That's  your  name." 

At  these  words,  I  observed  the  gentleman  more  attentively.  His 
laugh  coming  to  my  remembrance  too,  I  knew  him  to  be  Mr. 
Quinion,  whom  I  had  gone  over  to  Lowestoft  with  Mr.  Murdstone  to 
Bee,  before — it  is  no  matter — I  need  not  recall  when. 

"  And  how  do  you  get  on,  and  where  are  you  being  educated, 
Brooks  ?"  said  Mr.  Quinion. 

He  had  put  his  hand  upon  my  shoulder,  and  turned  me  about,  to 
walk  with  them.  I  did  not  know  what  to  reply,  and  glanced 
dubiously  at  Mr.  Murdstone. 

"  He  is  at  home  at  present,"  said  the  latter.  "  He  is  not  being 
educated  anywhere.  I  don't  know  what  to  do  with  him.  He  is  a 
difficult  subject." 

That  old,  double  look  was  on  me  for  a  moment ;  and  then  his  eye 
darkened  with  a  frown,  as  it  turned,  in  its  aversion,  elsewhere. 

"  Humph  !"  said  Mr.  Quinion,  looking  at  us  both,  I  thought. 
"Fine  weather!" 

Silence  ensued,  and  I  was  considering  how  I  could  best  disengage 
my  shoulder  from  his  hand,  and  go  away,  when  he  said : 

"  I  suppose  you  are  a  pretty  sharp  fellow  still  ?     Eh,  Brooks  ?" 

"  Aye !  He  is  sharp  enough,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  impatiently. 
"  You  had  better  let  him  go.  He  will  not  thank  you  for  troubhng 
him." 

On  this  hint,  Mr.  Quinion  released  me,  and  I  made  the  best  of 
my  way  home.     Looking  back  as  I  turned  into  the  front  garden,  I 


192  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

saw  Mr.  IMurdstone  leaning  against  the  wicket  of  the  churchyard, 
and  Mr.  Quinion  talking  to  him.  They  were  both  looking  after  me, 
and  I  felt  that  they  were  speaking  of  me. 

Mr.  Quinion  lay  at  our  house  that  night.  After  breakfast,  the 
next  morning,  I  had  put  my  chair  away,  and  was  going  out  of  the 
room,  when  Mr.  Murdstone  called  me  back.  He  then  gravely 
repaired  to  another  table,  where  his  sister  sat  herself  at  her  desk, 
Mr.  Quinion,  with  his  hands  in  his  pockets,  stood  looking  out  of 
>vindow  ;  and  I  stood  looking  at  them  all. 

"  David,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  "  to  the  young,  this  is  a  world  for 
action  ;  not  for  moping  and  droning  in." 

— "  As  you  do,''  added  his  sister. 

"  Jane  Murdstone,  leave  it  to  me,  if  you  please.  I  say,  David,  to 
the  young,  this  is  a  world  for  action,  and  not  for  moping  and 
droning  in.  It  is  especially  so  for  a  young  boy  of  your  disposition, 
which  requires  a  great  deal  of  correcting  ;  and  to  which  no  gi'eater 
service  can  be  done  than  to  force  it  to  conform  to  the  ways  of  the 
working  world,  and  to  bend  it  and  break  it." 

"  For  stubbornness  won't  do  here,"  said  his  sister.  "  What  it 
wants,  is  to  be  crushed.     And  crushed  it  must  be.     Shall  be,  too  ! " 

He  gave  her  a  look,  half  in  remonstrance,  half  in  approval,  and 
went  on : 

"  I  suppose  you  know,  David,  that  I  am  not  rich.  At  any  rate, 
you  know  it  now.  You  have  received  some  considerable  education 
already.  Education  is  costly ;  and  even  if  it  were  not,  and  I  could 
afFoi-d  it,  I  am  of  opinion  that  it  would  not  be  at  all  advantageous  to 
you  to  be  kept  at  a  school.  What  is  before  you,  is  a  fight  with  tht» 
world  ;  and  the  sooner  you  begin  it,  the  better." 

I  think  it  occurred  to  me  that  I  had  already  begun  it,  in  my  poor 
way  :  but  it  occurs  to  me  now,  whether  or  no. 

"  You  have  heard  '  the  counting-house'  mentioned  sometimes,* 
said  Mr.  Murdstone. 

"  The  counting-house,  sir  ?"  I  repeated. 

"  Of  Murdstone  and  Gi'inby,  in  the  wine  trade,"  he  replied. 

I  suppose  T  looked  uncertain,  for  he  went  on  hastily : 

"  You  have  heard  the  '  counting-house'  mentioned,  or  the  hiis\ 
ness,  or  the  cellars,  or  the  wharf,  or  something  about  it." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  198 

"  I  think  I  have  heard  the  business  nentioned,  sir,"  I  said,  re- 
membering what  I  vaguely  knew  o^  his  and  his  sister's  resources. 
*'  ]^ut  I  don't  know  when." 

"  It  does  not  matter  when,"  he  returned.  "  Mr.  Quinion  manages 
that  business." 

I  glanced  at  the  latter  deferentially  as  he  stood  looking  out  of 
window. 

"  Mr.  Quinion  suggests  that  it  gives  employment  to  some  other 
boys,  and  that  he  sees  no  reason  why  it  shouldn't,  on  the  same  terms, 
give  employment  to  you." 

"  He  having,"  Mr.  Quinion  observed  in  a  low  voice,  and  half  turn- 
ing round,  "  no  other  prospect,  Murdstone." 

Mr.  Murdstone,  with  an  impatient,  even  an  angry  gesture,  resum- 
ed, without  noticing  what  he  had  said  : 

"Those  terms  are,  that  you  will  earn  enough  for  yourself  to 
provide  for  your  eating  and  drinking,  and  pocket-money.  Your 
lodging  (which  I  have  arranged  for)  will  be  paid  by  me.  So  will 
your  washing — " 

— "  Which  will  be  kept  down  to  my  estimate,"  said  his  sister. 

"  Your  clothes  will  be  looked  after  for  you,  too,"  said  Mr.  Murd- 
stone ;  "  as  you  will  not  be  able,  yet  awhile,  to  get  them  for 
yom-self.  So  you  are  now  going  to  London,  David,  with  Mr. 
Quinion,  to  begin  the  world  on  your  own  account." 

"  In  short,  you  are  provided  for,"  observed  his  sister  ;  "  and  will 
please  to  do  your  duty." 

Though  I  quite  understood  that  the  purpose  of  this  announcement 
was  to  get  rid  of  me,  I  have  no  distinct  remembrance  whether  it 
pleased  or  frightened  me.  My  impression  is,  that  I  was  in  a  state 
of  confusion  about  it,  and,  oscillating  between  the  two  points, 
touched  neither.  Nor  had  I  much  time  for  the  clearing  of  my 
thoughts,  as  Mr.  Quinion  was  to  go  upon  the  morrow. 

Behold  me,  on  the  morrow,  in  a  much-worn  little  white  hat,  with 
a  black  crape  round  it  for  my  mother,  a  black  jacket,  and  a  pair  of 
hard,  stiff  cor(?.uroy  trousers — which  Miss  Murdstone  considered  the 
best  aiTuour  for  the  leors  in  that  fiijht  with  the  world  which  was  now 
to  come  off;  behold  me  so  attired,  and  with  my  little  worldly  all 
before  me  in  a  small  trunk,  sitting,  a  lone  lorn  child  (as  Mrs.  Gum* 

12 


194  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

midge  might  have  said),  in  the  post-chaise  that  was  carrying  Mr. 
Quinion  to  .the  London  coach  at  Yarmouth  !  See,  how  our  house 
and  church  are  lessening  in  the  distance  ;  how  the  grave  beneath 
the  tree  is  blotted  out  by  intervening  objects  ;  how  the  spire  points 
upv/ard  fi'om  my  old  playground  no  more,  and  the  sky  is  empty 


CHAPTER  XL 

I    BEGIN    LIFE    ON    MY    OWN    ACCOUNT,    AND    DOn't    LIKE    IT 

I  KNOW  enough  of  the  world  now,  to  have  almost  lost  the  capacity 
of  being  much  surprised  by  anj'thing;  but  it  is  matter  of  some 
surprise  to  me,  even  now,  that  I  can  have  been  so  easily  thrown 
away  at  such  an  age.  A  child  of  excellent  abihties,  and  with  strong 
powers  of  observation,  quick,  eager,  delicate,  and  soon  hurt  bodily  or 
mentally,  it  seems  wonderful  to  me  that  nobody  should  have  made 
any  sign  in  my  behalf.  But  none  was  made  ;  and  I  became,  at  ten 
years  old,  a  little  labouring  hind  in  the  service  of  Murdstone  and 
Grinby. 

!Murdstone  and  Grinby's  warehouse  was  at  the  water  side.  It 
was  down  in  Blackfriars.  Modern  improvements  have  altered  the 
place ;  but  it  was  the  last  house  at  the  bottom  of  a  narrow  street, 
curving  down  hill  to  the  river,  with  some  stairs  at  the  end,  where 
people  took  boat.  It  was  a  crazy  old  house  with  a  wharf  of  its  own, 
abutting  on  the  water  when  the  tide  was  in,  and  on  the  mud  when 
the  tide  was  out,  and  hterally  overrun  with  rats.  Its  panelled 
rooms,  discolored  with  the  dirt  and  smoke  of  a  hundred  years,  I 
dare  say ;  its  decajing  flooi*s  and  staircase ;  the  squeaking  and 
scuffling  of  the  old  grey  rats  down  in  the  c*?llars  ;  and  the  dirt  and 
rottenness  of  the  place  ;  are  things,  not  of  many  yeai-s  ago,  in  my 
mind,  but  of  the  present  instant.  They  are  all  before  me,  just  as 
they  were  in  the  evil  hour  when  I  went  among  them  for  the  first 
time,  with  my  trembling  hand  in  Mr.  Quini'^n's. 

Murdstone  and  Grinby's  trade  was  amon/x  a  good  many  kinds  of 
people,  but  an  important  branch  of  it  was  the  supply  of  wines  and 
spints  to  certain  packet  ships.  I  forget  now  where  they  chietiy 
went,  but  I  think  there  were  some  amonir  thf.'m  that  made  vovagfos 
both  to  the  East  and  West  Indies.  I  know  that  a  great  many 
emjjty  bottles  were  one  of  the  consequences  <»*"  iliii'  tralliu  and  thai 

196 


196  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

certain  men  and  boys  were  employed  to  examine  them  against  the 
light,  and  reject  those  that  were  flawed,  and  to  rinse  and  wash 
them.  When  the  empty  bottles  ran  short,  there  were  labels  to  be 
pasted  on  full  ones,  or  corks  to  be  fitted  to  them,  or  seals  to  be  put 
upon  the  corks,  or  finished  bottles  to  be  packed  in  casks.  All  this 
work  was  my  work,  and  of  the  boys  employed  upon  it  I  was  one. 

There  were  three  or  four  of  us,  counting  me.  My  working  place 
was  estabhshed  in  a  corner  of  the  warehouse,  where  Mr.  Quinion 
could  see  me,  when  he  chose  to  stand  up  on  the  bottom  rail  of  his 
stool  in  the  counting-house,  and  look  at  me  through  a  window  above 
the  desk.  Hither,  on  the  first  morning  of  my  so  auspiciously 
beginning  life  on  my  own  account,  the  oldest  of  the  regular  boys 
was  summoned  to  show  me  my  business.  His  name  was  Mick 
Walker,  and  he  wore  a  ragged  apron  and  a  paper  cap.  He  inform- 
ed me  that  his  father  was  a  bargeman,  and  walked,  in  a  black 
velvet  head-dress,  in  the  Lord  Mayor's  show.  He  also  informed  me 
that  our  principal  associate  would  be  another  boy  whom  he  intro- 
duced by  the — to  me — extraordinary  name  of  Mealy  Potatoes.  I 
discovered,  however,  that  this  youth  had  not  been  christened  by 
that  name,  but  that  it  had  been  bestowed  upon  him  in  the  ware- 
house, on  account  of  his  complexion,  which  was  pale  or  mealy. 
Mealy's  father  was  a  waterman,  who  had  the  additional  distinction 
of  being  a  fireman,  and  was  engaged  as  such  at  one  of  the  large 
theatres  ;  where  some  young  relation  of  Mealy's — I  think  his  little 
sister — did  Imps  in  the  Pantomimes. 

No  words  can  express  the  secret  agony  of  my  soul  as  I  sunk  into 
this  companionship  ;  compared  these  henceforth  every-day  asso- 
ciates with  those  of  my  happier  childhood — not  to  say  with  Steer- 
forth,  Traddles,  and  the  rest  of  those  boys  ;  and  felt  my  hopes  of 
growing  up  to  be  a  learned  and  distinguished  man  crushed  in  my 
bosom.  The  deep  remembrance  of  the  sense  I  had,  of  being  utterly 
without  hope  now ;  of  the  shame  I  felt  in  my  position ;  of  the 
misery  it  was  to  my  young  heart  to  believe  that  day  by  day  what  I 
had  learned,  and  thought,  and  delighted  in,  and  raised  my  fancy 
and  my  emulation  up  by,  would  pass  away  from  me,  little  by  little, 
never  to  be  brought  back  any  more  ;  cannot  be  written.  As  often 
as  Mick  Walker  went  away  in  the  course  of  that  forenoon,  I  mingled 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  197 

my  teai-s  with  the  water  in  which  I  was  \va«^liing  the  bottles ;  and 
sobbed  as  if  there  were  a  flaw  in  my  own  breast,  and  it  were  in 
danger  of  bursting. 

The  counting-house  clock  was  at  half-past  twelve,  and  there  was 
general  preparation  for  going  to  dinner,  when  Mr.  Quinion  tapped  at 
the  counting-house  window,  and  beckoned  to  me  to  go  in.  I  went 
in,  and  found  there  a  stoutish,  middle-aged  person,  in  a  brown  sur- 
tout  and  black  tights  and  shoes,  with  no  more  hair  upon  his  head 
(which  -svas  a  large  one,  and  very  shining)  than  there  is  upon  an  egg^ 
and  with  a  very  extensive  face,  which  he  turned  full  upon  me.  His 
clothes  were  shabby,  but  he  had  an  imposing  shirt-collar  on.  He 
carried  a  jaunty  sort  of  a  stick,  with  a  large  pair  of  rusty  tassels  to 
it ;  and  a  quizzing-glass  hung  outside  his  coat, — for  ornament,  I 
afterwards  found,  as  he  very  seldom  looked  thi'ough  it,  and  couldn't 
see  anything  when  he  did. 

"  This,"  said  Mr.  Quinion,  in  allusion  to  myself,  "  is  he." 

"  This,"  said  the  stranger,  with  a  certain  condescending  roll  in  his 
voice,  and  a  certain  indescribable  air  of  doing  something  genteel, 
which  impressed  me  very  much,  "  is  Master  Copperfeld.  I  hope  1 
see  you  well,  sir  ?" 

I  said  I  w^as  very  well,  and  hoped  he  was.  I  was  sufficiently  ill  at 
ease,  Heaven  knows  ;  but  it  was  not  in  my  nature  to  complain  much 
at  that  time  of  my  life,  so  I  said  I  was  very  well,  and  hoped  he  was. 

"  I  am,"  said  the  stranger,  "  thank  Heaven,  quite  well.  I  have 
received  a  letter  from  Mr.  Murdstone,  in  which  he  mentions  that  he 
would  desire  me  to  receive  into  an  apartment  in  the  rear  of  my 
house,  which  is  at  present  unoccupied — and  is,  in  short,  to  be  let  as 
a — in  short,"  said  the  stranger,  with  a  smile  and  in  a  burst  of  confi- 
dencf ,  "  as  a  bed-room — the  young  beginner  whom  I  have  now  the 
plea'  ure  to — "  and  the  stranger  waved  his  hand,  and  settled  his 
chin  in  his  shirt  collar. 

"  This  Ls  Mr.  Micawber,"  said  Mr.  Quinion  to  me. 

"  Aliem  !"  said  the  stranger,  "  that  is  my  name." 

"  Mr.  Micawber,"  said  Mr.  Quinion,  "  is  known  to  Mr.  Murdstone. 
He  takes  orders  for  us  on  commission,  when  he  can  get  any.  He 
has  been  written  to  by  Mr.  Murdstone,  on  the  subject  of  your  lodg- 
ings, and  he  will  receive  you  as  a  lodger." 


198  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"My  address,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "is  Windsor  Tf;rrnrr.  C  ly 
Road.  I — in  short,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  with  the  same  geiiteci  dit 
and  in  another  burst  of  confidence — "  I  hve  there." 

I  made  him  a  bow. 

"  Under  the  impression,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  that  your  peregri- 
nations in  this  metropoK»  have  not  as  yet  been  extensive,  and  that 
you  might  have  some  difficulty  in  penetrating  the  arcana  of  the 
Modern  Babylon  in  the  direction  of  the  City  Road — in  short,"  said 
Mr.  Micawber,  in  another  burst  of  confidence,  "  that  you  might  lose 
yourself — I  shall  be  happy  to  call  this  evening,  and  install  you  in 
the  knowledge  of  the  nearest  way." 

I  thanked  him  with  all  my  heart,  for  it  was  friendly  in  him  to 
offer  to  take  that  trouble. 

"  At  what  hour,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  shall  I — " 

"  At  about  eight,"  said  Mr.  Quinion. 

"  At  about  eight,"  said  Mr.  Micawber.  "  I  beg  to  wish  you  good 
day,  Mr.  Quinion.     I  will  intrude  no  longer." 

So  he  put  on  his  hat,  and  went  out  with  his  cane  under  his  arm : 
very  upright,  and  humming  a  tune  when  he  was  clear  of  the  count- 
ing-house. 

Mr.  Quinion  then  formally  engaged  me  to  be  as  useful  as  I  could 
in  the  warehouse  of  Murdstone  and  Grinby,  at  a  salary,  I  think,  of 
six  shillings  a  week.  I  am  not  clear  whether  it  was  six  or  seven.  I 
am  inclined  to  believe,  from  my  uncertainty  on  this  head,  that  it  was 
six  at  first  and  seven  afterwards.  He  paid  me  a  week  down  (from 
his  own  pocket,  I  believe),  and  I  gave  Mealy  sixpence  out  of  it  to 
get  my  trunk  earned  to  Windsor  TeiTace  at  night :  it  being  too 
heavy  for  my  strength,  small  as  it  was.  I  paid  sixpence  more  for 
my  dinner,  which  was  a  meat  pie  and  a  turn  at  a  neighbouring 
pump ;  and  passed  the  hour  wliich  was  allowed  for  that  meal,  in 
walkino-  about  the  streets. 

At  the  appointed  time  in  the  evening,  Mr.  Micawber  reappeared. 
I  washed  my  hands  and  face,  to  do  the  greater  honour  to  his 
gentility,  and  we  walked  to  our  house,  as  I  suppose  I  must  now  call 
it,  together ;  Mr.  Micawber  impressing  the  names  of  streets,  and  the 
shapes  of  corner  houses  upon  me,  as  we  went  along,  that  I  might 
find  my  way  back,  easily,  in  the  morning. 

Arrived  at  his  house  m  Windsor  Terrace  (wliich  I  noticed  was 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  109 

shabby,  like  himself,  but  also,  like  liimself,  made  all  the  show  it 
could),  he  presented  me  to  Mrs.  Micawber,  a  thin  and  faded  lady, 
not  at  all  youn<^,  who  was  sitting  in  the  j»arlor  (the  fii-st  floor  was 
altogether  unfurnished,  and  the  Winds  were  kept  down  to  delude  the 
neighbours),  with  a  baby  at  her  breast.  This  baby  was  one  of 
twins ;  and  I  may  remark  here  that  I  hardly  ever,  in  all  my  expe- 
rience of  the  family,  saw  both  the  twms  detached  from  Mrs.  Micawber 
at  the  same  time.     One  of  them  was  always  taking  refreshment. 

There  were  two  other  children,:  Master  Micawber,  aged  about 
four,  and  Miss  Micawber,  aged  about  three.  These,  and  a  dark-com- 
plexioned young  woman,  with  a  habit  of  snorting,  who  was  servant 
to  the  family,  and  informed  me,  before  half-an-hour  had  expired,  that 
she  was  "  a  Orfling,"  and  came  from  St.  Luke's  workhouse  in  the 
neighbourhood,  completed  the  establishment.  My  room  was  at  the 
top  of  the  house,  at  the  back :  a  close  chamber ;  stencilled  all  over 
with  an  ornament  which  my  young  imagination  represented  as  a 
blue  muffin,  and  very  scantily  furnished. 

"  I  never  thought,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber,  when  she  came  up,  twin 
and  all,  to  show  me  the  apartment,  and  sat  down  to  take  breath, 
"  before  I  was  married,  when  I  lived  with  papa  and  mama,  that  I 
should  ever  find  it  necessary  to  take  a  lodger.  But  Mr.  Micawber 
being  in  difficulties,  all  considerations  of  private  feehng  must  give 
way." 

I  said :  "  Yes,  ma'am." 

"  Mr.  Micawber's  difficulties  are  almost  overwhelming  just  at  pre- 
sent," said  Mrs.  Micawber ;  "  and  whether  it  is  possible  to  bring  him 
through  them,  I  don't  know.  When  I  hved  at  home  with  papa 
and  mama,  I  really  should  have  hardly  understood  what  the  word 
meant,  in  the  sense  in  which  I  now  employ  it,  but  experientia  does 
it — as  papa  used  to  say." 

I  cannot  satisfy  myself  whether  she  told  me  that  Mr.  ^Micawber 
had  been  an  officer  in  the  Marines,  or  whether  I  have  imagined  it. 
I  only  know  that  I  believe  to  this  hour  that  he  was  in  the  Marines 
once  upon  a  time,  without  knowing  why.  He  was  a  sort  of  town 
traveller  for  a  number  of  miscellaneous  houses,  now ;  but  made  httle 
or  nothing  of  it,  I  am  afraid. 

"  If  Mr.  Micawber's  creditors  will  not  give  him  time,"  said  Mrs. 
Micawber,  "  they  must  take  the  consequences  ;    and  the  sooner  they 


200  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

brinof  it  t<5  an  issue  the  better.  Blood  cannot  be  obtained  from  a 
stone,  neitlier  can  anytbixig  on  account  be  obtained  at  present  (not 
to  mention  law  expenses)  from  Mr.  Micawber." 

I  never  can  quite  understand  whether  my  precocious  self-depend- 
ence confused  Mi-s.  Micawber  in  reference  to  my  age,  or  whether  she 
was  so  full  of  the  subject  that  she  would  have  talked  about  it  to  the 
very  twins  if  there  had  been  nobody  else  to  communicate  with,  but 
this  was  the  strain  in  which  she  began,  and  she  went  on  accordingly 
all  the  time  I  knew  her. 

Poor  Mi-s.  Micawber !  She  said  slie  had  tiied  to  exert  herself ; 
and  so,  I  have  no  doubt,  she  had.  The  centre  of  the  street-door  was 
perfectly  covered  with  a  great  brass-plate,  on  which  was  engraved 
"  Mrs.  Micawber's  Boarding  Establishment  for  Young  Ladies  ;"  but 
I  never  found  that  any  young  lady  had  ever  been  to  school  there  ; 
or  that  any  young  lady  ever  came,  or  proposed  to  come :  or  that  the 
least  preparation  was  ever  made  to  receive  any  young  lady.  The 
only  visitors  I  ever  saw  or  heard  of,  were  c;  ^iditors.  They  used  to 
come  at  all  hours,  and  some  of  them  were  quite  ferocious.  One 
dirty-faced  man,  I  think  he  was  a  bootmaker,  used  to  edge  himself 
into  the  passage  as  early  as  seven  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and  call 
up  the  stairs  to  Mr.  Micawber — "  Come  !  You  ain't  out  yet,  you 
know.  Pay  us,  will  you  ?  Don't  hide,  you  know ;  that's  mean.  I 
wouldn't  be  mean  if  I  was  you.  Pay  us,  will  you  ?  You  just  pay 
us,  d'ye  hear  ?  Come  !"  Receiving  no  answer  to  these  taunts,  he 
would  mount  in  his  wrath  to  the  words  "  swindlers"  and  "  robbers  ;" 
and  these  being  ineffectual  too,  would  sometimes  go  to  the  extremity 
of  crossing  the  street,  and  roaring  up  at  the  windows  of  the  second 
floor,  where  he  knew  Mr.  Micawber  was.  At  these  times,  Mr. 
Micawber  would  be  transported  with  grief  and  mortification,  even  to 
the  length  (as  I  was  once  made  aware  by  a  scream  from  his  wife)  of 
making  motions  at  himself  with  a  razor  ;  but  within  half  an  hour 
afterwards^  he  would  polish  up  his  shoes  with  extraordinary  pains, 
and  go  out,  humming  a  tune  with  a  greater  air  of  gentility  than 
ever.  Mrs.  Micawber  was  quite  as  elastic.  I  have  known  her  to  be 
thrown  into  fainting  fits  by  the  king's  taxes  at  three  o'clock,  and  to 
eat  lamb  chops,  breaded,  and  drink  warm  ale  (paid  for  with  two  tea- 
spoons that  had  gone  to  the  pawnbroker's)  at  four.  On  one  occa- 
sion, when  an  execution  had  just  been  put  in,  coming  home  through 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  201 

some  chance  as  early  as  six  o'clock,  I  saw  her  lying  (of  course  with  a 
twin)  under  tho  grate  in  a  swoon,  with  her  hair  all  torn  about  hei 
face  ;  but  I  never  knew  her  mere  cheerful  than  she  was,  that  very 
same  night,  over  a  veal-cutlet  before  the  kitchen  fire,  telling  me 
stories  about  her  papa  and  mama,  and  the  company  they  used  to  keep. 

In  this  house,  and  with  this  family,  I  past  my  leisure  time.  My 
own  exclusive  breakfast  of  a  penny  loaf  and  a  penny  worth  of  milk, 
I  pro\ided  myself  I  kept  another  small  loaf,  and  a  modicum  of 
cheese,  on  a  particular  shelf  of  a  particular  cujjboard,  to  make  my 
supper  on  when  I  came  back  at  night.  This  made  a  hole  in  the  six 
or  seven  shillings,  I  know  well ;  and  I  was  out  at  the  warehouse  all 
day,  and  had  to  support  myself  on  that  money  all  the  week.  From 
Monday  morning  until  Saturday  night,  I  had  no  advice,  n<?  counsel, 
no  encouragement,  no  consolation,  no  assistance,  no  support,  of  any 
kind,  from  any  one,  that  I  can  call  to  mind,  as  I  hope  to  go  to 
heaven ! 

I  was  so  young  and  childish,  and  so  Wt'Aa,  qualified — ^how  could  I 
be  otherwise  ? — to  undertake  the  whoL  charge  of  my  own  existence, 
that  often,  in  going  to  Murdstone  and  Grinby's,  of  a  morning,  I 
could  not  resist  the  stale  pastry  put  out  for  sale  at  half-price  at  the 
pastrycook's  doors,  and  spent  in  that,  the  money  I  should  have  kept 
for  my  dinner.  Then,  I  went  without  my  dinner,  or  bought  a  roll 
or  a  shce  of  pudding.  I  remember  two  pudding-shops,  between 
which  I  was  divided,  according  to  my  finances.  One  was  in  a  court 
close  to  St.  Martin's  Church — at  the  back  of  the  church — which  is 
now  removed  altogether.  The  pudding  at  that  shop  was  made  of 
currants,  and  was  rather  a  special  pudding,  but  was  dear,  twopenny- 
worth  not  being  larger  than  a  pennyworth  of  more  ordinary  pudding. 
A  good  shop  for  the  latter  was  in  the  Strand — somewhere  in  that 
part  which  has  been  rebuilt  since.  It  was  a  stout  pale  pudding, 
heavy  and  flabby,  and  with  great  flat  raisins  in  it,  stuck  in  whole  at 
wide  distances  apart.  It  came  up  hot  at  about  my  time  every  day; 
and  many  a  day  did  I  dine  off"  it.  When  I  dined  regularly  and 
handsomely,  I  had  a  saveloy  and  a  penny-loaf,  or  a  fourpenny  plate 
of  red  beef  from  a  cook's  shop ;  or  a  plate  of  bread  and  cheese  and 
a  glass  of  beer,  from  a  miseraljle  old  ))ublic-house  opposite  our  place 
of  business,  called  the  Lion,  or  the  Lion  and  sonictliing  else  that  I 
have  forgotten.     Once,  I  remember,  cairying  my  own  bread  (whick 


202  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  had  brouglit  from  home  in  the  morning),  under  my  arm,  wrapped 
in  a  piece  of  paper,  Uke  a  book,  and  going  to  a  famous  alamode 
beef-house  near  Drury  Lane,  and  ordering  a  "  small  plate"  of  that 
delicacy  to  eat  with  it.  What  the  waiter  thought  of  such  a  strange 
Uttle  apparition  coming  in  all  alone,  I  don't  know ;  but  I  can  see  him 
now,  staring  at  me  as  I  ate  my  dinner,  and  bringing  up  the  other 
waiter  to  look.  I  gave  him  a  halfpenny  for  himself,  and  I  wish  he 
hadn't  taken  it. 

We  had  half-an-hour,  I  think,  for  tea.  When  I  had  money 
enough,  I  used  to  get  half-a-pint  of  ready-made  coffee  and  a  shce  of 
bread  and  butter.  When  I  had  none,  I  used  to  look  at  a  venison- 
shop  in  Fleet-street ;  or  I  have  strolled,  at  such  a  time,  as  far  as 
Covent  Garden  Market,  and  stared  at  the  pine-apples.  I  was  fond 
of  wandering  about  the  Adelphi,  because  it  was  a  mysterious  place, 
with  those  dark  arches.  I  see  myself  emerging  one  evening  from 
some,  of  these  arches,  on  a  little  pubhc-house  close  to  the  river,  with 
an  open  space  before  it,  where  some  coal-heavers  were  dancing ;  to 
look  at  whom,  I  sat  down  upon  a  bench.  I  wonder  what  they 
thoujrht  of  me  ! 

I  was  such  a  child,  and  so  little,  that  frequently  when  I  went  into 
the  bar  of  a  strange  public-house  for  a  glass  of  ale  or  porter,  to 
moisten  what  I  had  had  for  dinner,  they  were  afraid  to  give  it  me. 
I  remember  one  hot  evening  I  went  into  the  bar  of  a  public-house, 
and  said  to  the  landlord  : 

"  What  is  your  best — your  very  best — ale  a  glass  ?"  For  it  was 
a  special  occasion.  I  don't  know  what.  It  may  have  been  my 
birth-day. 

"  Twopence-halfpenny,"  says  the  landlord,  "  is  the  price  of  the 
Genuine  Stunnino;  ale." 

"Then,'*  says  I,  producing  the  money,  "just  draw  me  a  glass  of 
the  Genuine  Stunning,  if  you  please,  with  a  good  head  to  it." 

The  landlord  looked  at  me  in  return  over  the  bar,  from  head  to 
foot,  with  a  strange  smile  on  his  face  ;  and  instead  of  drawing  the 
beer,  looked  round  the  screen  aud  said  something  to  his  wife.  She 
came  out  from  beh'.nd  it,  with  her  work  in  her  hand,  and  joined  him 
in  surveying  me.  Here  we  stand,  all  three,  before  me  now.  The 
landlord  in  his  shirt  sleeves,  leaning  against  the  bar  window-frame  , 
his  wife  looking  over  the  httle  half-door  ;  and  I,  in  some  confusion, 


My  magnificent  Order  at  the  I'ublic  House. 


u^ 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  203 

looking  up  at  them  from  outside  the  partition.  They  asked  me  a 
good  many  questions  ;  as,  what  my  name  was,  how  old  I  was,  where 
I  lived,  How  I  was  employed,  and  how  I  came  there.  To  all  of 
which,  that  I  might  commit  nobody,  I  invented,  I  am  afi-aid,  appro- 
priate answers.  They  served  me  with  the  ale,  though  I  suspect  it 
was  not  the  Genuine  Stunning  ;  and  the  landlord's  wife,  opening  the 
little  half-door  of  the  bar,  and  bending  down,  gave  me  my  money 
back,  and  gave  me  a  kiss  that  was  half  admiring  and  half  compas- 
sionate, but  all  womanly  and  good,  I  am  sure. 

I  know  I  do  not  exaggerate,  unconsciously  and  unintentionally, 
the  scantiness  of  my  resources  or  the  difficulties  of  my  life.  I  know 
that  if  a  sliilhng  were  given  me  by  Mr.  Quinion  at  any  time,  I  spent 
it  in  a  dinner  or  a  tea.  I  know  that  I  worked,  from  morning  until 
night,  with  common  men  and  boys,  a  shabby  child.  I  know  that  I 
lounged  about  the  streets,  insufficiently  and  unsatisfactorily  fed.  I 
know  that,  but  for  the  mercy  of  God,  I  might  easily  have  been, 
for  any  care  that  was  taken  of  me,  a  little  robber  or  a  httle 
vagabond. 

Yet  I  held  some  station  at  Murdstone  and  Grinby's  too.  Besides 
that  Mr.  Quinion  did  what  a  careless  man  so  occupied,  and  dealing 
with  a  thing  so  anomalous,  could,  to  treat  me  as  one  upon  a  different 
footing  from  th<j  rest,  I  never  said,  to  man  or  boy,  how  it  was  that 
I  came  to  be  there,  or  gave  the  least  indication  of  being  sorry  that  I 
was  there.  That  I  suffered  in  secret,  and  that  I  suffered  exquisitely, 
no  one  ever  knew  but  I.  How  much  I  suffered,  it  is,  as  I  have  said 
already,  utterly  beyond  my  power  to  tell.  But  I  kept  my  own 
counsel,  and  I  did  my  work.  I  knew  from  the  first,  that,  if  I  could 
not  do  my  work  as  well  as  any  of  the  rest,  I  could  not  hold  myself 
above  slight  and  contempt.  I  soon  became  at  least  as  expeditious 
and  as  skilful  as  either  of  the  other  boys.  Though  perfectly  familiar 
with  them,  my  conduct  and  manner  were  different  enough  fi-om 
theirs  to  place  a  space  between  us.  They  and  the  men  generally 
spoke  of  me  as  "  the  httle  gent,"  or  "  the  young  Suffolker."  A 
certain  man  named  Gregory,  who  was  foreman  of  the  packers,  and 
another  named  Tipp,  who  was  the  carman,  and  wore  a  red  jacket, 
used  to  address  me  sometimes  as  "David:"  but  I  think  it  was 
mostly  when  we  were  very  confidential,  and  when  I  had  made  some 
efforts  to  entertain  them,  over  our  work,  with  some  results  of  the  old 


204  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

readings;  wliich  were  fast  perishing  out  of  my  remembrance. 
Mealy  Potatoes  uprose  once,  and  rebelled  against  my  being  so  dis 
tinf^uished  ;  but  Mick  Walker  settled  him  in  no  time. 

My  rescue  from  this  kind  of  existence  I  considered  quite  hopeless, 
and  abandoned,  as  such,  altogether.  I  am  solemnly  convinced  that 
I  never  for  one  hour  was  reconciled  to  it,  or  w^as  otherwise  than 
miserably  unhappy  ;  but  I  bore  it ;  and  even  to  Peggotty,  partly  for 
the  love  of  her  and  partly  for  shame,  never  in  any  letter  (though 
many  passed  between  us)  revealed  the  truth. 

Mr.  Micawber's  difficulties  were  an  addition  to  the  distressed  state 
of  my  mind.  In  my  forlorn  state  I  became  quit<2  attached  to  the 
family,  and  used  to  walk  about,  busy  with  Mrs.  Micawber's  calcula- 
tions of  ways  and  means,  and  heavy  with  the  weight  of  Mr.  Micaw- 
ber's debts.  On  a  Saturday  night,  which  was  my  grand  treat, — 
partly  because  it  was  a  gi'eat  thing  to  walk  home  \^^th  six  or  seven 
shillings  in  my  pocket,  looking  into  the  shops  and  thinking  what 
such  a  sura  would  buy,  and  partly  because  I  went  home  early, — • 
Mi's.  Micawber  would  make  the  most  heart-rending  confidences  to 
me  ;  also  on  a  Sunday  morning,  when  I  mixed  the  portion  of  tea  or 
coflfee  I  had  bought  over-night,  in  a  little  shaving  pot,  and  sat  late 
at  my  breakfast.  It  was  nothing  at  all  unusual  for  Mr.  Micawber  to 
sob  violently  at  the  beginning  of  one  of  these  Saturday  night  con- 
versations, and  sing  about  Jack's  delight  being  his  lovely  Nan, 
towards  the  end  of  it.  I  have  knoT\ai  him  to  come  home  to  supper 
with  a  flood  of  tears,  and  a  declaration  that  nothing;  was  now  left 
but  a  jail ;  and  go  to  bed  making  a  calculation  of  the  expense  of 
putting  bow- windows  to  the  house,  "  in  case  anything  turned  up," 
which  was  his  favorite  expression.  And  Mrs.  Micawber  was  just  the 
game. 

A  curious  equality  of  friendship,  originating,  I  suppose,  in  our 
respective  circumstances,  sprung  up  between  me  and  these  people, 
notwithstanding  the  ludicrous  disparity  in  our  years.  But  I  never 
allowed  myself  to  be  prevailed  upon  to  accept  any  invitation  to  eat 
and  drink  with  them  out  of  their  stock  (knowing  that  they  got  on 
badly  with  the  butcher  and  baker,  and  had  often  not  too  much  for 
themselves),  until  ]\Irs.  Micawber  took  me  into  her  entire  confidence, 
lliis  she  did  one  evenino;  as  follows : 

"  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber,  "  I  make  no  strangei 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  205 

of  y(ju,  and  therefore  do  not  hesiUite  to  say  that  Mr.  Micawber'a 
difficulties  are  coming  to  a  crisis." 

It  made  me  very  miserable  to  hear  it,  and  I  looked  at  Mi-s.  Micaw- 
ber's  red  eyes  ^vith  the  utmost  sympathy. 

"  With  the  exception  of  the  heel  of  a  Dutch  cheese — which  is  not 
adapted  to  the  wants  of  a  young  family" — said  Mi-s.  Micawber, 
"  there  is  really  not  a  scrap  of  anything  in  the  larder.  I  was  accus- 
tomed to  speak  of  the  larder  when  I  hved  ^^ith  papa  and  mama,  and 
I  use  the  word  almost  unconsciously.  What  I  mean  to  express,  is, 
that  there  is  nothing  to  eat  in  the  house." 

"  Dear  me  !"  I  said,  in  gi-eat  concern. 

I  had  two  or  three  shillings  of  my  week's  money  in  my  pocket — • 
from  which  I  presume  that  it  must  have  been  on  a  Wednesday  night 
when  we  held  this  conversation — and  I  hastily  produced  them,  and 
with  heartfelt  emotion  begged  Mrs.  Micawber  to  acce})t  of  them  as 
a  loan.  But  that  lady,  kissing  me,  and  making  me  put  them  bark 
in  my  pocket,  replied  that  she  couldn't  think  of  it. ' 

"  No,  my  dear  Master  Copperfield,"  said  she,  "  hr  be  it  from  my 
thoughts  !  But  you  have  a  discretion  beyond  your  years,  and  can 
render  me  another  kind  of  service,  if  you  will ;  and  a  service  I  will 
thankfidly  accept  of." 

I  begged  Mrs.  Micawber  to  name  it. 

"  I  have  parted  with  the  plate  myself,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber. 
"Six  tea,  two  salt,  and  a  pair  of  sugars,  I  have  at  different  times 
borrowed  money  on,  in  secret,  with  my  own  hands.  But  the  twins 
are  a  great  tie  ;  and  to  me,  with  my  recollections  of  papa  and  mama, 
these  transactions  are  very  painful.  There  are  still  a  few  trifles  that 
we  could  part  with.  Mr.  Micawber's  feelings  would  never  allow  him 
to  dispose  of  them  ;  and  Clickett" — this  was  the  girl  from  the  work- 
house— "  being  of  a  vulgar  mind,  would  take  painful  hberties  if  so 
much  confidence  was  reposed  in  her.  Master  Copperfield,  if  I  might 
ask  you" — 

I  understood  Mrs.  Micawber  now,  and  begged  her  to  make  use  of 
me  to  any  extent.  I  began  to  dispose  of  the  more  port;iblo  articles 
of  property  that  very  evening ;  and  went  out  on  a  similar  expedition 
almost  every  morning,  before  I  went  to  Murdstone  and  Grinby's. 

Mr.  Micawber  had  a  few  books  on  a  little  chiftoiiier,  which  lie 


206  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

called  tlie  library ;  and  those  went  first.  I  carried  tliem,  one  after 
another,  to  a  bookstall  in  the  City  Road — one  part  of  which,  iiear 
our  house,  was  almost  all  bookstalls  and  bird-shops  then — and  sold 
them  for  whatever  they  would  bring.  The  keeper  of  this  bookstall, 
who  lived  in  a  little  house  behind  it,  used  to  get  tipsy  every  night, 
and  to  be  violently  scolded  by  his  Avife  every  morning.  More  than 
once,  when  I  went  there  eaily,  I  had  audience  of  him  in  a  turn-up 
bedstead,  with  a  cut  in  his  forehead  or  a  black  eye,  bearing  witness 
to  his  excesses  over  night  (I  am  afraid  he  was  quarrelsome  in  his 
drink),  and  he,  with  a  shaking  hand,  endeavoring  to  find  the  needful 
shillings  in  one  or  other  of  the  pockets  of  his  clothes,  which  lay 
upon  the  floor,  while  his  wife,  with  a  baby  in  her  arms  and  her  shoes 
down  at  heel,  never  left  oflf  rating  him.  Sometimes  he  had  lost  his 
money,  and  then  he  would  ask  me  to  call  again  ;  but  his  wife  had 
always  got  some — had  taken  his,  I  dare  say,  while  he  was  drunk — 
and  secretly  completed  the  bargain  on  the  stairs,  as  we  went  down 
together. 

At  the  pa^rabroker's  shop,  too,  I  began  to  be  very  well  known. 
The  principal  gentleman  who  ofiiciated  behind  the  counter,  took  a 
good  deal  of  notice  of  me  ;  and  often  got  me,  I  recollect,  to  dechne 
a  Latin  noun  or  adjective,  or  to  conjugate  a  Latin  verb,  in  his  ear, 
while  he  transacted  my  business.  After  all  these  occasions  Mrs. 
Micawber  made  a  little  treat,  which  was  generally  a  supper ;  and 
there  was  a  peculiar  relish  in  these  meals  which  I  well  remember. 

At  last  Mr.  Micawber's  difficulties  came  to  a  ci'isis,  and  he  was 
arrested  early  one  morning,  and  carried  over  to  the  King's  Bench 
Prison  in  the  Borough.  He  told  me,  as  he  went  out  of  the  house, 
that  the  God  of  day  had  now  gone  down  upon  him — and  I  really 
thought  his  heart  was  broken  and  mine  too.  But  I  heard,  after- 
wards, that  he  was  seen  to  play  a  lively  game  at  skittles,  before  noon. 

On  the  first  Sunday  after  he  was  taken  there,  I  was  to  go  and  see 
him,  and  have  dinner  with  him.  I  was  to  ask  my  way  to  such  a 
place,  and  just  short  of  that  place  I  should  see  such  another  place, 
and  just  short  of  that  I  sliould  see  a  yard,  which  I  was  to  cross,  and 
keep  straight  on  until  I  saw  a  turnkey.  All  this  I  did;  and  when 
at  last  I  did  see  a  turnkey  (pooj  ittle  fellow  that  I  was  1),  and 
thought  how,  when  Roderick  Random  was  in  a  debtor's  prison,  there 


DAVID    COrPEIlFIELD.  207 

was  a  man  tliere  with  nothing  on  him  but  an  old  rug,  the  tm-nkey 
swam  before  my  dimmed  eyes  and  my  beating  heart. 

Mr.  Micawber  was  waiting  for  me  within  the  gate,  and  we  went  up 
to  his  room  (top  story  but  one),  and  cried  very  much.  He  solemnly 
conjured  me,  I  remember,  to  take  warnmg  by  his  fate ;  and  to  ob- 
serve that  if  a  man  had  twenty  pounds  a-year  for  his  income,  and 
spent  nineteen  pounds  nineteen  shilhng-s  and  sixpence,  he  would  be 
happy,  but  that  if  he  spent  twenty  pounds  one  he  would  be  imsera- 
ble.  After  which  he  borrowed  a  shilhng  of  me  for  porter,  gave  me 
u  written  order  on  Mrs.  Micawber  for  the  amount,  and  put  away  his 
pocket-handkerchief,  and  cheered  up. 

We  sat  before  a  little  fire,  with  two  bricks  put  within  the  rusted 
grate,  one  on  each  side,  to  prevent  its  burning  too  many  coals  ;  until 
another  debtor,  who  shared  the  room  with  Mr.  Micawber,  came  in 
from  the  bakehouse  with  the  loin  of  mutton  which  was  our  joint- 
stock  repast.  Then  I  was  sent  up  to  "  Captain  Hopkins "  in  the 
room  overhead,  with  Mr.  Micaw^ber's  comphments,  and  I  was  his 
young  friend,  and  would  Captain  Hopkins  lend  me  a  knife  and 
fork. 

Captain  Hopkins  lent  me  the  knife  and  fork,  with  his  compliments 
to  Mr.  Micawber.  There  was  a  very  dirty  lady  in  his  little  room, 
and  two  wan  girls,  liis  daughters,  with  shock  heads  of  hair.  I 
thought  it  was  better  to  borrow  Captain  Hopkins's  knife  and  fork, 
than  Captain  Hopkins's  comb.  The  Captain  himself  was  in  the  last 
extremity  of  shabbiness,  with  large  whiskers,  and  an  old,  old  brown 
great-coat  with  no  other  coat  below  it.  I  saw  his  bed  rolled  up  in 
a  corner  ;  and"  what  plates  and  dishes  and  pots  he  had,  on  a  shelf; 
and  I  divined  (God  knows  how)  that  though  the  two  girls  with  the 
shock  heads  of  hair  were  Captain  Hopkins's  children,  the  dirty  lady 
was  not  married  to  Captain  Hopkins.  My  timid  station  on  his 
threshold  was  not  occupied  more  than  a  coujile  of  minutes  at  most ; 
but  I  came  down  again  with  all  this  in  my  knowledge,  as  surely  as 
the  knife  and  fork  were  in  my  hand. 

There  was  something  gipsy -like  and  agreeable  in  the  dinner,  after 
all.  I  took  back  Captain  Hopkins's  knife  and  fork  early  in  the  after- 
noon, and  went  home  to  comfort  Mrs.  Micawber  with  an  account  of  my 
visit.  She  fainted  when  she  saw  me  return,  and  made  a  little  jug 
of  egg-hot  afterwards  to  console  us  wl  ile  we  talked  it  over. 


203  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  don't  know  how  tlie  houseliold  furniture  came  to  be  sold  for  the 
family  benefit,  or  who  sold  it,  except  that  /  did  not.  Sold  it  was, 
however,  and  carried  away  in  a  van  •  except  the  bed,  a  few  chairs, 
and  the  kitchen-table.  With  these  possessions  we  encamped,  as  it 
were,  in  the  two  parlore  of  the  emptied  house  in  Windsor  Terrace ; 
Mrs.  Tklicawber,  the  children,  the  Orfling,  and  myself ;  and  hved  m 
those  rooms  night  and  day.  I  have  no  idea  for  how  long,  though  it 
seem%  to  me  for  a  long  time.  At  last  Mrs.  Micawber  resolved  to 
move  into  the  prison,  where  Mr.  Micawber  had  now  secured  a  room 
to  himself.  So  I  took  the  key  of  the  house  to  the  landlord,  who  was 
very  glad  to  get  it ;  and  the  beds  were  sent  over  to  the  King's 
Bench,  except  mine,  for  which  a  little  room  was  hired  outside  the 
walls  in  the  neighbourhood  of  that  Institution,  veiy  much  to  my 
satisfaction,  since  the  Micawbers  and  I  had  become  too  used 
to  one  another,  in  our  troubles,  to  part.  The  Orfling  was  likewise 
accommodated  with  an  mexpensive  lodging  in  the  same  neighbour- 
hood. Mine  was  a  quiet  back  garret  with  a  sloping  roof,  command- 
ing a  pleasant  prospect  of  a  timber-yard ;  and  when  I  took  posses- 
sion of  it,  with  the  reflection  that  Mr.  Micawber's  troubles  had  come 
to  a  crisis  at  last,  I  thought  it  quite  a  paradise. 

All  this  time  I  was  working  at  Murdstone  and  Grinby's  in  the 
same  common  way,  and  with  the  same  common  companions,  and 
with  the  same  sense  of  unmerited  degradation  as  at  first.  But  I 
never,  happily  for  me  no  doubt,  made  a  single  acquaintance,  or 
spoke  to  any  of  the  many  boys  whom  I  saw  daily  in  going  to  the 
warehouse,  in  coming  from  it,  and  in  prowling  about  the  streets  at 
meal  times.  I  led  the  same  secretly  unhappy  life  ;  but  I  led  it  in 
the  same  lonely,  self-reliant  manner.  The  only  changes  I  am  con- 
scious of  are,  firstly,  that  I  had  grown  more  shabby,  and  secondly, 
that  I  was  now  relieved  of  much  of  the  Aveight  of  Mr.  and  Mi-s. 
Micawber's  cares  ;  for  some  relatives  or  friends  had  engaged  to  help 
them  at  their  present  pass,  and  they  lived  more  comfortably  in  the 
prison  than  they  had  lived  for  a  long  while  out  of  it.  I  used  to 
breakfast  with  them  now,  in  A-irtue  of  some  arrangement,  of  wliich  I 
have  forgotten  the  details.  I  forget,  too,  at  what  hour  the  gates 
were  opened  in  the  morning,  admitting  of  my  going  in ;  but  I  know 
that  I  was  often  up  at  six  o'clock,  and  that  my  favorite  lounging- 
place  in  the  interval  was  old  London  Bridge,  where  I  was  wont  to 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  -00 

sit  in  one  of  txie  stone  recesses,  watching  the  people  going  by,  or  to 
look  over  the  balustrades  at  the  sun  shining  in  the  water,  and  light- 
ing up  the  golden  flame  on  the  top  of  the  Monument.  The  Orfling 
met  me  here  sometimes,  to  be  told  some  astonishing  fictions  respect- 
ing the  wharves  and  the  Tower  ;  of  which  I  can  say  no  more  than 
that  I  hope  I  beheved  them  myself.  In  the  evening  I  used  to  go 
back  to  the  prison,  and  walk  up  and  down  the  parade  with  Mr. 
Micawber :  or  play  casino  with  Mrs.  Micawber,  and  hear  reminis- 
cences of  her  papa  and  mama.  Whether  Mr.  Murdstone  knew 
where  I  was,  I  am  unable  to  say.  I  never  told  them  at  Murdstone 
and  Grinby's. 

Mr.  Micawber's  affairs,  although  past  their  crisis,  were  very  much 
involved  bv  reason  of  a  certain  "  Deed,"  of  which  I  used  to  hear  a 
great  deal,  and  which  I  suppose,  now,  to  have  been  some  former 
composition  with  his  creditors,  though  I  was  so  far  from  being  clear 
about  it  then,  that  I  am  conscious  of  ha\ing  confounded  it  with 
those  demoniacal  parchments  which  are  held  to  have,  once  upon  a 
time,  obtained  to  a  great  extent  in  Germany.  At  last  this  docu- 
ment appeared  to  be  got  out  of  the  way,  somehow  ;  at  all  events  it 
ceased  to  be  the  rock-ahead  it  had  been ;  and  Mrs.  Micawber 
informed  me  that  "her  family"  had  decided  that  Mr.  Micawber 
should  apply  for  his  release  under  the  Insolvent  Debtors  Act,  which 
would  set  him  free,  she  expected,  in  about  six  weeks. 

"  And  then,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  who  was  present,  "  I  have  no 
doubt  I  shall,  please  Heaven,  begin  to  be  beforehand  with  the  world, 
and  to  hve  in  a  perfectly  new  manner,  it^ — in  short,  if  anything  turns 
up." 

By  way  of  going  in  for  anything  that  might  be  on  the  cards,  I  call 
to  mind  that  Mr.  Micawber,  about  this  time,  composed  a  petition  to, 
the  House  of  Commons,  praying  for  an  alteration  in  the  law  of  im- 
prisonment for  debt.  I  set  down  this  remembrance  here,  becaase  it 
is  an  instance  to  myself  of  the  manner  in  which  I  fitted  my  old 
books  to  my  altered  life,  and  made  stories  for  myself  out  of  the 
streets,  and  out  of  men  and  women  ;  and  how  some  main  point«i  in 
the  character  I  shall  unconsciously  develope,  I  suppose,  in  writing 
my  life,  were  gradually  forming  all  this  while. 

There  was  a  club  in   the    prison,  in  wliich  Mr.   Micawber,  as  a 
gentleman,  was  a  great  authority.     Mi-.  Micawber  had  stilted  his  ides 
13 


210  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

of  this  petition  to  the  club,  and  the  club  had  strongly  approved  of 
the  same.  Wherefore  Mr.  Micawber  (who  was  a  thoroughly  good- 
natured  man,  and  as  active  a  creature  about  everything  but  his  own 
affairs  as  ever  existed,  and  never  so  happy  as  when  he  was  busy  about 
something  that  could  never  be  of  any  profit  to  him)  set  to  work  at 
the  petition,  invented  it,  engrossed  it  on  an  immense  sheet  of  paper, 
spread  it  out  on  a  table,  and  appointed  a  time  for  all  the  club,  and 
all  within  the  walls  if  they  chose,  to  come  up  to  his  room  and 
sign  it. 

Allien  I  heard  of  this  approaching  ceremony,  I  was  so  anxious  t« 
see  them  all  come  in,  one  after  another,  though  I  knew  the  greatei 
part  of  them  already,  and  they  me,  that  I  got  an  hour's  leave  of 
absence  from  Murdstone  and  Grinby's,  and  established  myself  in  a 
comer  for  that  purpose.  As  many  of  the  principal  members  of  the 
club  as  could  be  got  mto  the  small  room  without  filling  it,  supported 
Mr.  Micawber  in  front  of  the  petition,  while  my  old  friend  Captain 
Hopkins  (who  had  w^ashed  liimself,  to  do  honor  to  so  solemn  an 
occasion)  stationed  himself  close  to  it,  to  read  it  to  all  who  were 
unacquainted  with  its  contents.  The  door  was  then  thrown  open, 
and  the  general  population  began  to  come  in,  in  a  long  file  :  several 
waiting  outside,  while  one  entered,  affixed  his  signatm*e,  and  went 
out.  To  everybody  in  succession,  Captain  Hopkins  said :  "  Have 
you  read  it  ? "— "  :N"o."— "  Would  you  like  to  hear  it  read  ? "  If  he 
weakly  showed  the  least  disposition  to  hear  it.  Captain  Hopkins,  in  a 
loud  sonorous  voice,  gave  him  every  woi'd  of  it.  The  Captain 
would  have  read  it  twenty  thousand  times,  if  twenty  thousand 
people  would  have  heard  him,  one  by  one.  I  remember  a  certain 
luscious  roll  he  gave  to  such  2:)hrases  as  "  The  people's  representa- 
tives in  Parhament  assembled,"  "  Your  petitioners  therefore  humbly 
approach  your  honorable  house,"  "  His  gracious  Majesty's  unfortunate 
subjects,"  as  if  the  w^ords  were  something  real  in  his  mouth,  and 
delicious  to  taste  ;  Mr.  Micawber,  meanwhile,  listening  with  a  little 
of  an  author's  vanity,  and  contemplating  (not  severely)  the  spikes 
on  the  opposite  wall. 

As  I  walked  to  and  fro  daily  between  Southwark  and  Blackfriai's, 
and  lounged  about  at  meal-times  in  obscure  streets,  the  stones  of 
which  may,  for  anything  I  know,  be  worn  at  this  moment  by  my 
childish  feet,  I  wonder  how  many  of  these'  people  were  wanting  in 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  211 

the  crowd  that  used  to  come  filing  before  me  in  review  again,  to  the 
echo  of  Captain  Hopkins's  voice  !  When  my  thoughts  go  buck, 
now,  to  that  slow  agony  of  my  youth,  I  wonder  how  much  of  the 
histories  I  invented  for  such  people  hangs  like  a  mist  of  fancy  over 
well-remembered  facts !  When  I  tread  the  old  gTound,  I  do  not 
wonder  that  I  seem  to  see  and  pity,  going  on  before  me,  an  innocent 
romantic  boy,  making  his  imaginative  world  out  of  such  strange 
experiences  and  sordid  things ! 


CHAPTER  XII. 

LIKING    LIFE    ON    MY    OWN    ACCOUNT    NO    BETTER,    I    FORM    A    GREAT 

RESOLUTION. 

In  due  time,  Mr.  Micawber's  petition  was  ripe  for  hearing ;  and 
that  gentleman  was  ordered  to  be  discharged  under  the  act,  to  my 
great  joy.  His  creditors  were  not  implacable  ;  and  Mrs.  Micawber 
informed  me  that  even  the  revengeful  bootmaker  had  declared  in 
open  court  that  he  bore  him  no  malice,  but  that  when  money  was 
owing  to  him  he  hked  to  be  paid.  He  said  he  thought  it  was  human 
nature. 

Mr.  Micawber  returned  to  the  King's  Bench  when  his  case  was 
over,  as  some  fees  were  to  be  settled,  and  some  formalities  observed, 
before  he  could  be  actually  released.  The  club  received  him  with 
transport,  and  held  an  harmonic  meeting  that  evening  in  his  honor ; 
while  Mi-s.  Micawber  and  I  had  a  lamb's  fry  in  jjrivate,  suiTounded 
by  the  sleeping  family. 

"  On  such  an  occasion  I  \vill  give  you.  Master  Copperfield,"  said 
Mrs.  Micawber,  "  in  a  little  more  flip,"  for  we  had  been  having 
some  already,  "  the  memory  of  my  papa  and  mama." 

"  Are  they  dead,  ma'am  ? "  I  enquired,  after  drinking  the  toast  in 
a  wine-glass. 

"  My  mama  departed  this  life,"  said  ^Irs.  Micawbor,  "  before  Mr. 
Micawber's  difficulties  commenced,  or  at  least  before  tl  ey  became 
pressing.  My  papa  lived  to  bail  Mr.  Micawber  several  times,  and 
then  expired,  regretted  by. a  numerous  circle." 

Mrs.  Micawbor  shook  lier  head,  and  dropped  a  jnuus  tear  upju 
the  twin  wlio  happened  to  be  in  hand. 


212  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

As  I  could  hardly  hope  for  a  more  favourable  opportunity  of 
putting  a  question  in  which  I  had^  a  near  interest,  I  said  to  Mrs. 
Micawber : 

"  May  I  ask,  ma'am,  what  you  and  Mr.  Micawber  intend  to  do, 
now  that  Mr.  Micawber  is  out  of  his  difficulties,  and  at  hberty  ? 
Have  you  settled  yet  ?" 

"My  family,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber,  w^ho  always  said  those  two 
words  with  an  air,  though  I  never  could  discover  who  came  under 
the  denomination,  "my  family  are  of  opinion  that  Mr.  Micawber 
should  quit  London,  and  exert  his  talents  in  the  country.  Mr. 
Micawber  is  a  man  of  great  talent,  Master  Copperfield." 

I  said  I  was  sure  of  that. 

"  Of  great  talent,"  repeated  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  My  family  are  of 
opinion,  that,  with  a  httle  interest,  something  might  be  done  for  a 
man  of  his  abihty  in  the  Custom  House.  The  influence  of  my 
family  being  local,  it  is  their  wish  that  Mr.  Micawber  should  go 
down  to  Plymouth.  They  think  it  indispensable  that  he  should  be 
upon  the  spot." 

"  That  he  may  be  ready  ?"   I  suggested. 

"  Exactly,"  returned  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  That  he  may  be  ready — 
in  case  of  anything  turning  up." 

"  And  do  you  go,  too,  ma'am  ?" 

The  events  of  the  day,  in  combination  with  the  twins,  if  not  with 
the  flip,  had  made  Mrs.  Micawber  hysterical,  and  she  shed  teai's  as 
she  rephed : 

"  I  never  will  desert  Mr.  Micawber.  Mr.  Micawber  may  have 
concealed  his  difficulties  from  me  in  the  first  instance,  but  his  san- 
guine temper  may  have  led  him  to  expect  that  he  would  overcome 
them.  The  pearl  necklace  and  bracelets  which  I  inherited  from 
mama,  have  been  disposed  of  for  less  than  half  their  value  ;  and  the 
set  of  coral,  which  was  the  wedding  gift  of  my  papa,  has  been  actu- 
ally thrown  away  for  nothing.  But  I  never  will  desert  Mr.  Micaw- 
ber. No  I"  cried  Mrs.  Micawber,  more  affected  than  before,  "  I 
never  will  do  it !     It 's  of  no  use  asking  me  !" 

I  felt  quite  uncomfortable — as  if  Mi-s.  Micawber  supposed  I  had 
asked  her  to  do  anything  of  the  sort  ? — and  sat  looking  at  her  in 
alarm. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  213 

*'  Mr.  Micawber  has  his  faults.  I  do  not  deny  that  he  is  improvn- 
dent.  I  do  not  deny  that  he  has  kept  me  in  the  dark  as  to  hia 
resources  and  his  liabiUties,  both,"  she  went  on,  looking  at  the  wall ; 
" but  I  ne\er  will  desert  Mr.  Micawber !" 

Mrs.  Micawber  having  now  raised  her  voice  into  a  perfect  scream, 
1  was  so  frightened  that  I  ran  off  to  the  club-room,  and  disturbed 
Mr.  Micawber  in  the  act  of  presiding  at  a  long  table,  and  leading 
the  chorus  of 

Gee  up,  Dobbin, 
Gee  ho,  Dobbin, 
Gee  up,  Dobbin, 
Gee  up,  and  gee  ho — o — o  ! 
— ^with  the  tidings  that  Mrs.  Micawber  was  in  an  alarming  state, 
upon  which  he  immediately  bui*st  into  tears,  and  came  away  with 
me  with  his  waistcoat  full  of  the  heads  and  tails  of  shrimps,  of  which 
he  had  been  partaking. 

"  Enmia,  my  angel !"  cried  Mr.  Micawber,  running  into  the  room ; 
"  what  is  the  matter  ?" 

"  I  never  will  desert  you,  Micawber !"  she  exclaimed. 

"  My  life !"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  taking  her  in  his  arms.  "  I  am 
perfectly  aware  of  it." 

"He  is  the  parent  of  my  children!  He  is  the  father  of  my 
twins  !  He  is  the  husband  of  my  affections,"  cried  Mrs. 
Micawber,  strugghng  ;  "  and  I  ne — ver — will — desert  Mr.  Mic- 
awber !" 

Mr.  Micawber  was  so  deeply  affected  by  this  proof  of  her  devotion 
(as  to  me,  I  was  dissolved  in  tears),  that  he  hung  over  her  in  a 
passionate  manner,  imploring  her  to  look  up,  and  to  be  calm.  But 
the  more  he  asked  Mrs.  Micawber  to  look  up,  the  more  she  fixed 
her  eyes  on  nothing ;  and  the  more  he  asked  her  to  compose  her- 
self, the  more  she  wouldn't.  Consequently  Mr.  Micawber  was  soon 
so  overcome,  that  he  mingled  his  tears  with  hers  and  mine ;  until 
he  begged  me  to  do  him  the  favor  of  taking  a  chair  on  the  staircase, 
while  he  got  her  into  bed.  I  would  have  taken  my  leave  for  the 
night,  but  he  would  not  hear  of  my  doing  that  until  the  strangeiis' 
bell  should  ring.  So  I  sat  at  the  staircase  window,  until  he  came 
out  with  another  chair  and  j(nned  me. 

"  How  is  Mrs.  Micawber  now,  sir  ?" 


214  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Very  low,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  shaking  his  head  ;  "  re-action. 
Ah,  this  has  been  a  dreadful  day !  We  stand  alone  now — every- 
thing is  gone  fi'om  us !" 

Mr.  Micawber  pressed  my  hand,  and  groaned,  and  afterwards  shed 
tears.  I  was  greatly  touched,  and  disappointed  too,  for  I  had 
expected  that  we  should  be  quite  gay  on  this  happy  and  long- 
looked  for  occasion.  But  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Micawber  were  so  used  to 
their  old  difficulties,  I  think,  that  they  felt  quite  shipwrecked  when 
they  came  to  consider  that  they  were  released  from  them.  All  their 
elasticity  was  departed,  and  I  never  saw  them  half  so  wretched  as 
on  this  night ;  insomuch  that  when  the  bell  rang,  and  Mr.  Micawber 
walked  with  me  to  the  lodge,  and  parted  from  me  there  with  a 
blessing,  I  felt  quite  afi-aid  to  leave  him  by  himself,  he  was  so  pro- 
foundly miserable. 

But  through  all  the  confrision  and  lowness  of  spirits  in  which  we 
had  been,  so  unexpectedly  to  me,  involved,  I  plainly  discerned  that 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Micawber  and  their  family  were  going  away  from 
Loudon,  and  that  a  parting  between  us  was  near  at  hand.  It  was 
in  my  walk  home  that  night,  and  m  the  sleej^less  hours  which  fol- 
lowed when  I  lay  in  bed,  that  the  thought  first  occurred  to  me — 
though  I  don't  know  how  it  came  into  my  head — which  afterwards 
shaped  itself  into  a  settled  resolution. 

I  had  gi"own  to  be  so  accustomed  to  the  Micawbers,  and  had  been 
so  intimate  with  them  in  their  distresses,  and  was  so  utterly  friend- 
less without  them,  that  the  prospect  of  being  thrown  upon  some 
new  shift  for  a  lodging,  and  going  once  more  among  unknown 
people,  was  like  being  that  moment  turned  adrift  into  my  present 
hfe,  with  such  a  knowledge  of  it  ready  made,  as  experience  had 
given  me.  All  the  sensitive  feehngs  it  wounded  so  cruelly,  aU  the 
shame  and  misery  it  kept  alive  vdthin  my  breast,  became  more 
poignant  as  I  thought  of  this ;  and  I  detei'mined  that  the  life  was 
unendurable. 

That  there  was  no  hope  of  escape  fi'om  it,  unless  the  escape  was 
my  own  act,  I  knew  quite  well.  I  rarely  heaid  from  Miss  Murd- 
stone,  and  never  from  Mr.  Murdstone :  but  two  or  three  parcels  of 
made  or  mended  clothes  had  come  ip  for  me,  consigned  to  Mr. 
Quinion,  and  in  each  there  was  a  scrap  of  paper  to  the  effect  that  J. 
M.  trusted  D.  C.  was  applying  himse.f  to  business,  and  devoting 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  215 

himself  wholly  to  his  duties — not  the  least  hint  of  my  ever  being 
anything  else  than  the  common  drudge  into  which  I  was  fast  settling 
down. 

The  very  next  day  showed  me,  while  my  mind  was  in  the  fiist 
agitation  of  what  it  had  conceived,  that  Mi-s.  Micawber  had  not 
spoken  of  their  going  away  without  warrant.  They  took  a  lodging 
in  the  hoase  where  I  lived,  for  a  week ;  at  the  expiration  of  which 
time  they  were  to  start  for  Plymouth.  Mr.  Micawber  himself  came 
down  to  the  counting-house,  in  the  afternoon,  to  tell  Mr.  Quinion 
that  he  must  relinquish  me  on  the  day  of  his  departure,  and  to  give 
me  a  high  character,  wliich  I  am  sure  I  deserved.  And  Mr.  Quinion, 
calling  in  Tipp  the  carman,  who  was  a  married  man,  and  had  a 
room  to  let,  quartered  me  prospectively  on  him — by  our  mutual 
consent,  as  he  had  every  reason  to  think  ;  for  I  said  nothing,  though 
my  resolution  was  now  taken. 

I  passed  my  evenings  with  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Micawber,  during  the 
remaining  term  of  our  residence  under  the  same  roof;  and  I  think 
we  became  fonder  of  one  another  as  the  time  went  on.  On  the  last 
Sunday,  they  invited  me  to  dinner ;  and  we  had  a  loin  of  pork  and 
apple  sauce,  and  a  pudding.  I  had  bought  a  spotted  wooden  horse 
over-night  as  a  parting  gift  to  little  Wilkins  Micawber — that  was  the 
boy — and  a  doll  for  httle  Emma.  I  had  also  bestowed  a  shilling  on 
the  Orfling,  who  was  about  to  be  disbanded. 

We  had  a  very  pleasant  day,  though  we  were  all  in  a  tender  state 
about  our  approaching  separation. 

"  I  shall  never,  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Mrs.  Mica\yber,  "  revert 
to  the  period  when  Mr.  Micawber  was  in  difficulties,  without  thinking 
of  you.  Your  conduct  has  always  been  of  the  most  dehcate  and 
obliging  description.  You  have  never  been  a  lodger.  You  have 
been  a  friend." 

" My  dear,"  said  Mr.  Micawber  ;  "Copperfield,"  for  so  he  had  been 
accastomed  to  call  me,  of  late,  "  has  a  heart  to  feel  for  the  distresses  of 
his  fellow  creatures  when  they  are  behind  a  cloud,  and  a  head  to  plan, 

and  a  hand   to in  short,  a  general  ability  to  dispose  of  such 

available  property  as  could  be  made  away  with." 

I  expressed  my  sense  of  this  commendation,  and  said  I  was  very 
SOFT)'  we  were  going  to  lose  one  another. 

"My  dear  young  friend,"  saii  Mr.  Micawber,  "1  am  -older  than 


216  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

you ;  a  man  of  some  experience  in  life,  and — and  of  some  experience, 
in  short,  in  difficulties  generally  speaking'.  At  present,  ,and  until 
something  turns  up  (which  I  am,  I  may  say,  hourly  expecting),  I 
have  nothing  to  bestow  but  advice.  Still  my  advice  is  so  far  worth 
taking,  that — in  short,  that  I  have  never  taken  it  myself,  and  am 
the" — here  Mr.  Micawber,  who  had  been  beaming  and  smiling,  all 
over  his  head  and  face,  up  to  the  present  moment,  checked  himself 
and  frowned —  *'  the  miserable  wretch  you  behold." 

"  My  dear  Micawber  ! "  urged  his  wife. 

"  I  say,"  returned  Mr.  Micawber,  quite  forgetting  himself,  and 
smiling  again,  "the  miserable  wretch  you  behold.  My  advice  is, 
never  do  to-morrow  what  you  can  to-day.  Procrastination  is  the 
thief  of  time.     Collar  him." 

"  My  poor  papa's  maxim,"  Mrs.  Micawber  observed. 

"  My  dear,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  your  papa  wa^  very  well  in  his 
way,  and  heaven  forbid  that  I  should  disparage  him.  Take  him  for 
all  in  all,  we  ne'er  shall — in  short,  make  the  acquaintance,  probably, 
of  any  body  else  possessing,  at  his  time  of  life,  the  same  legs  for 
gaiters,  and  able  to  read  the  same  description  of  print,  without 
spectacles.  But  he  applied  that  maxim  to  our  marriage,  my  dear ; 
and  that  was  so  far  prematurely  entered  into,  in  consequence,  that  I 
never  recovered  the  expense." 

Mr.  Micawber  looked  aside,  at  Mrs.  Micawber,  and  added ;  "  Not 
that  I  am  sorry  for  it.  Quite  the  contrary,  my  love."  After  which, 
he  was  grave  for  a  minute  or  so. 

"  My  other  piece  of  advice,  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  you 
know.  Annual  income  twenty  pounds,  annual  expenditm'e  nineteen 
ought  and  six,  result  happiness.  Annual  income,  twenty  pounds, 
annual  expenditure  twenty  pounds  ought  and  six,  result  misery. 
The  blossom  is  blighted,  the  leaf  is  withered,  the  god  of  day  goes 
down  upon  the  dreary  scene,  and — and  in  short  you  are  forever 
floored.     As  I  am  !" 

To  make  his  example  the  more  impressive,  IMr.  Micawber  drank  a 
glass  of  punch  with  an  air  of  great  enjoyment  and  satisfaction,  and 
jvhistled  the  College  Hornpipe. 

I  did  not  fail  to  assure  him  that  I  would  store  these  precepts  in 
my  mind,  though  indeed  I  had  no  need  to  do  so,  for,  at  the  time,  they 
affected  me  visibly.     Next  morning  I  met  the  whole  family  at  the 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  217 

coach-office,  and  saw  lliem  with  a  desolate  heart,  take  their  places 
outside,  at  the  back. 

"  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Mi-s  Micawber.  "  God  bless  you !  I 
never  can  forget  all  that,  you  know,  and  I  never  would  if  1  could." 

"  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  farewell !  Every  ha[)piness  and 
prosperity  I  If,  in  the  progress  of  revolving  years,  I  could  jiersuade 
myself  that  my  blighted  destiny  had  been  a  warning  to  you,  I  sliould 
feel  that  I  had  not  occupied  another  man's  place  in  existence 
altogether  in  vain.  In  case  of  an}i;hing  turning  up  (of  which  I  am 
rather  confident),  I  shall  be  extremely  happy  if  it  should  be  in  my 
power  to  improve  your  prospects." 

I  think,  as  Mi-s.  Micawber  sat  at  the  back  of  the  coach,  with  the 
children,  and  I  stood  in  the  road  looking  wistfully  at  them,  a  mist 
cleared  Irom  her  eyes,  and  she  saw  what  a  little  creature  I  really 
was.  I  think  so,  because  she  beckoned  me  to  climb  up  with  quite  a 
new  and  motherly  expression  in  her  face,  and  put  her  arm  round  my 
neck,  and  gave  me  just  such  a  kiss  as  she  might  have  given  to  her 
own  boy.  I  had  barely  time  to  get  down  again  before  the  coach 
started,  and  I  could  hardly  see  the  family  for  the  handkerchiefs  they 
waved.  It  was  ojone  in  a  minute.  The  Orthnc:  and  I  stood  lookincr 
vacantly  at  each  other  in  the  middle  of  the  road,  and  then  shook 
hands  and  said  good  bye  ;  she  going  back,  I  suppose,  to  Saint  Luke's 
workhouse,  as  I  went  to  begin  my  weary  day  at  Mui'dstone  and 
Grinby's. 

But  with  no  intention  of  passing  many  more  weary  days  there. 
No.  I  had  resolved  to  run  away. — To  go,  by  some  means  or  other, 
down  into  the  country,  to  the  only  relation  I  had  in  the  world,  and 
tell  my  story  to  my  aunt,  Miss  Betsey. 

I  have  already  observed  that  I  don't  know  how  this  desperate  idea 
came  into  my  brain.  But,  once  there,  it  remained  there ;  and 
hardened  into  a  purpose  than  which  I  have  never  enteilained  a  more 
determmed  purpose  in  my  Hfe.  I  am  far  from  sure  that  I  believed 
there  was  anything  hopeful  in  it,  but  my  mind  was  thoroughly 
made  up  that  it  must  be  carried  into  execution. 

Again,  and  again,  and  a  hundred  times  again,  since  the  niglit 
;vhen  the  thought  had  first  occurred  to  me  and  banished  sleep,  I  had 
gone  over  that  old  story  of  my  poor  mother's  al)()Ut  my  birth,  which 
it  had  been  one  of  my  great  delights  in  the  old  time  to  hear  her  tell 


218  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

and  which  I  knew  by  heart.  My  aunt  walked  into  that  story,  and 
walked  out  of  it,  a  dread  and  aAvful  personage ;  but  there  was  one 
httle  trait  in  her  behavior  which  I  liked  to  dwell  on,  and  which  gave 
me  some  faint  shadow  of  encouragement.  I  could  not  forget  how 
my  mother  had  thought  that  she  felt  her  touch  her  pretty  hair  with 
no  ungentle  hand  ;  and  though  it  might  have  been  altogether  my 
mother's  fancy,  and  might  have  had  no  foundation  whatever  in  fact, 
I  made  a  little  picture,  out  of  it,  of  my  terrible  aunt  relenting 
towards  the  girlish  beauty  that  I  recollected  so  well  and  loved  so. 
much,  which  softened  the  whole  narrative.  It  is  very  possible  that 
it  had  been  in  my  mind  a  long  time,  and  had  gradually  engendered 
my  determination. 

As  I  did  not  even  know  where  Miss  Betsey  lived,  I  wrote  a  long 
letter  to  Peggotty,  and  asked  her,  incidentally,  if  she  remembered ; 
pretending  that  I  had  heard  of  such  a  lady  living  at  a  certain  place 
I  named  at  random,  and  had  a  curiosity  to  know  if  it  were  the  same. 
In  the  course  of  that  letter,  I  told  Peggotty  that  I  had  a  particular 
occasion  for  half  a  guinea ;  and  that  if  she  could  lend  me  that  sum 
until  I  could  repay  it,  I  should  be  very  much  obliged  to  her,  and 
would  tell  her  afterwards  what  I  had  wanted  it  for. 

Peggotty's  answer  soon  arrived,  and  was,  as  usual,  full  of 
affectionate  devotion.  She  enclosed  the  half  guinea  (I  was  afraid 
she  must  have  had  a  world  of  trouble  to  get  it  out  of  Mr.  Barkis's 
box),  and  told  me  that  Miss  Betsey  lived  near  Dover,  but  whether 
at  Dover  itself,  at  Hythe,  Sandgate,  or  Folkstone,  she  could  not  say. 
One  of  our  men,  however,  informing  me  on  my  asking  him  about 
these  places,  that  they  were  all  close  together,  I  deemed  this  enough 
for  my  object,  and  resolved  to  set  out  at  the  end  of  that  week. 

Being  a  very  honest  little  creature,  and  unwilling  to  disgrace  the 
memory  I  was  going  to  leave  behind  me  at  Murdstone  and  Grinby's, 
I  considered  myself  bound  to  remain  until  Saturday  night ;  and,  as 
I  had  been  paid  a  week's  wages  in  advance  when  I  first  came  there, 
not  to  present  myself  in  the  counting-house  at  the  usual  hour,  to 
receive  my  stipend.  For  this  express  reason,  I  had  borrowed  the 
half-guinea,  that  I  might  not  be  without  a  fund  for  my  travelling- 
expenses.  Accordingly,  Avhen  the  Saturday  night  came,  and  we 
were  all  waiting  in  the  warehouse  to  be  paid,  and  Tipp  the  carman, 
who  always  took  precedence,  went  in  fii*st  to  draw  his  money,  1 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  2  9 

shook  Mick  Walker  by  the  hand ;  asked  him  when  it  came  to  his 
turn  to  be  paid,  to  say  to  Mr.  Quinion  that  I  had  gone  to  move  iny 
box  to  Tij^p's ;  and,  bidding  a  last  good  night  to  Mealy  Potatoes, 
ran  away. 

My  box  was  at  my  old  lodging,  over  the  water,  and  I  had  written 
a  direction  for  it  on  the  back  of  one  of  our  address  cards  that  we 
nailed  on  the  casks  :  "  Master  David,  to  be  left  till  called  for,  at  the 
Coach  Office,  Dover."  This  I  had  in  my  pocket  ready  to  put  on  the 
box,  after  I  should  have  got  it  out  of  the  house ;  and  as  I  went 
towards  my  lodging,  I  looked  about  me  for  some  one  who  would  help 
me  to  carry  it  to  the  booking-office. 

There  was  a  long-legged  young  man   with  a  very  little  empty 
donkey-cart,  'standing  near  the  Obelisk,  in  the  Blackfriars  Road, 
whose  eye  I  caught  as  I  was  going  by,  and  who  addressing  me  as 
"  Sixpenn'orth  of  bad  ha'pence,"  hoped  "  I  should  know  him  agin  to 
Bwear  to  " — in  allusion,  I  have  no  doubt,  to  my  staring  at  him.     I 
stopped  to  assure  him  that  I  had  not  done  so  in  bad  manners,  but 
uncertain  whether  he  might  or  might  not  like  a  job. 
"  Wot  job  ? "  said  the  long-legged  young  man. 
"  To  move  a  box,"  I  answered. 
"  Wot  box  ? "  said  the  long-legged  young  man. 
I  told  him  mine,  which  was  down  that  street  there,  and  which  T 
wanted  him  to  take  to  the  Dover  coach-office  for  sixpence. 

"  Done  with  you  for  a  tanner ! "  said  the  long-legged  young  man, 
and  directly  got  upon  his  cart,  which  was  nothing  but  a  large 
wooden-tray  on  wheels,  and  rattled  away  at  such  a  rate,  that  it  was 
as  much  as  I  could  do  to  keep  pace  with  the  donkey. 

There  was  a  defiant  manner  about  this  young  man,  and  particu- 
larly about  the  way  in  which  he  chewed  straw  as  he  spoke  to  me, 
that  I  did  not  much  like ;  as  the  bargain  was  made,  however,  I  took 
him  up-stairs  to  the  room  I  was  leaving,  and  we  brought  the  box 
down,  and  put  it  on  his  cart.  Now,  I  was  unwilling  to  put  the 
direction-card  on  there,  lest  any  of  my  landlord's  family  should 
fathom  what  I  was  doing,  and  detain  me ;  so  I  said  to  the  young 
man  that  I  would  be  glad  if  he  would  stop  for  a  minute,  when  he 
came  to  the  dead-wall  of  the  King's  Bench  prison.  The  words  were 
no  sooner  out  of  my  mouth,  than  he  rattled  away  as  if  he,  my  box, 
the  cart,  and  the  donkey,  were  all  equally  mad ;  and  I  was  quite  out 


220  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

of  breatli  with  running  and  calling  after  him,  when  I  caught  him  at 
the  place  appointed. 

Being  much  flushed  and  excited,  I  tumbled  my  half-guinea  out 
of  my  pocket  in  pulling  the  card  out.  I  put  it  in  my  mouth  for 
safety,  and  though  my  hands  trembled  a  good  deal,  had  just  tied  the 
iard  on  very  much  to  my  satisfaction,  when  I  felt  myself  violently 
chucked  under  the  chin  by  the  long-legged  young  man,  and  saw  my 
half  guinea  fly  out  of  my  mouth  into  his  hand. 

"  Wot ! "  said  the  young  man,  seizing  me  by  my  jacket  collar, 
with  a  fi'ightful  grin.  "  This  is  a  pollis  case,  is  it  ?  You're  a  going 
to  bolt,  are  you  ?  Come  to  the  polhs,  you  young  warmin,  come  to 
the  pollis ! '' 

"  You  give  me  my  money  back,  if  you  please,"  said  I,  very  much 
frightened ;  "  and  leave  me  alone." 

"  Come  to  the  polhs ! "  said  the  young  man.  "  You  shall  prove 
it  yourn  to  the  pollis." 

"  Give  me  my  box  and  money,  will  you,"  I  cried,  bursting  into 
tears. 

The  young  man  still  rephed :  "  Come  to  the  poUis  ! "  and  was 
dragging  me  against  the  donkey  in  a  \dolent  manner,  as  if  there 
were  any  affinity  between  that  animal  and  a  magistrate,  when  he 
changed  his  mind,  jumped  into  the  cart,  sat  upon  my  box,  and, 
exclaiming  that  he  would  drive  to  the  pollis  straight,  rattled  away 
harder  than  ever. 

I  ran  after  him  as  fast  as  I  could,  but  I  had  no  breath  to  call  out 
with,  and  should  not  have  dared  to  call  out,  now,  if  1  had.  I 
narrowly  escaped  being  run  over,  tw^enty  times  at  least,  in  half  a 
mile.  Now  I  lost  him,  now  I  saw  him,  now  I  lost  him,  now  I  was 
t!ut  at  with  a  whip,  now  shouted  at,  now  down  in  the  mud,  pow  up 
again,  now  running  into  somebody's  arms,  now  running  headlong-  at  a 
post.  At  length,  confused  by  fright  and  heat,  and  doubting  whether 
half  London  might  not  by  this  time  be  turned  out  for  my  apprehen- 
sion, I  left  the  young  man  to  go  where  he  w^ould  with  my  box  and 
money ;  and,  panting  and  crying,  but  never  stopping,  faced  about 
for  Greenwich,  which  I  had  understood  was  on  the  Dover  Road : 
taking  very  little  more  out  of  the  world,  towards  the  retreat  of  my 
aunt.  Miss  Betsey,  than  I  had  brought  into  it,  on  the  night  when  my 
arrival  gave  her  so  much  umbrage. 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

THE    SEQUEL    OF    MY    RESOLUTION. 

For  anything  I  know,  I  may  have  had  some  wild  idea  of  running 
all  the  way  to  Dover,  when  I  gave  up  the  pursuit  of  the  young  man 
with  the  donkey  cart,  and  started  for  Greenwich.  My  scattered 
senses  were  soon  collected  as  to  that  point,  if  I  had  ;  for  I  came  to  a 
stop  in  the  Kent  Road,  at  a  terrace  with  a  piece  of  water  before  it, 
and  a  great  foohsh  image  in  the  middle,  blowing  a  dry  shell.  Here 
I  sat  down  on  a  door-step,  quite  spent  and  exhausted  ^vith  the  efforts 
I  had  already  made,  and  with  hardly  breath  enough  to  ciy  for  the 
loss  of  my  box  and  half-guinea. 

It  was  by  this  time  dark  ;  I  heard  the  clocks  strike  ten,  as  I  sat 
resting.  But  it  was  a  summer  night,  fortunately,  and  fine  weather. 
When  I  had  recovered  aiy  breath,  and  had  got  rid  of  a  stifling  sen- 
sation in  my  throat,  I  rose  up  and  went  on.  In  the  midst  of  my 
distress,  I  had  no  notion  of  going  back.  I  doubt  if  I  should  have 
had  any,  though  there  had  been  a  Swiss  snow-drift  in  the  Kent 
Road. 

But  my  standing  possessed  of  only  three-halfpence  in  the  world 
(and  I  am  sure  I  wonder  how  they  came  to  be  left  in  my  pocket  on 
a  Saturday  night !)  troubled  me  none  the  less  because  I  went  on.  I 
began  to  picture  to  myself,  as  a  scrap  of  newspaper  intelligence,  my 
being  found  dead  in  a  day  or  two,  under  some  hedge ;  and  1  trudged 
on  miserably,  though  as  fast  as  I  could,  until  I  happened  to  pass  a 
little  shop,  where  it  was  written  up  that  ladies'  and  gentlemen's 
wardrobes  were  bought,  and  that  the  best  price  was  given  for  rags, 
bones,  and  kitchen-stuff.  The  ma.ster  of  tliis  shop  wits  sitting  at  the 
door  in  his  shirt  sleeves,  smoking  ;  and  as  there  were  a  great  many 
coats  and  pairs  of  trowsers  dangling  from  the  low  ceiling,  and  only 
two  feeble  candles  burning  inside  to  show  what  they  were,  I  fancied 

221 


222  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

that  he  looked  like  a  man  of  a  revengeful  disposition,  who  had  hung 
all  his  enemies,  and  was  enjoying  himself. 

My  late  experiences  with  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Micawber  suggested  to  me 
that  here  might  be  the  means  of  keeping  off  the  wolf  for  a  little 
while.  I  went  up  the  next  bye-street,  took  off  my  waistcoat,  rolled 
it  neatly  under  my  arm,  and  came  back  to  the  shop-door.  "  If  you 
please,  sir,"  I  said,  "  I  am  to  sell  this  for  a  fair  price." 

Mr.  Dolloby — Dolloby  was  the  name  over  the  shop-door,  at  least — 
took  the  waistcoat,  stood  his  pipe  on  its  head  against  the  door-post 
went  into  the  shop,  followed  by  me,  snuffed  the  two  candles  with  his 
fingers,  spread  the  waistcoat  on  the  counter,  and  looked  at  it  there, 
held  it  up  against  the  hght,  and  looked  at  it  there,  and  ultimately 
said  : 

"  What  do  you  call  a  price,  now,  for  this  here  httle  weskit  ?" 

"  Oh !  you  know  best,  sir,"  I  returned,  modestly. 

"  I  can't  be  buyer  and  seller,  too,"  said  Mr.  Dolloby.  "  Put  a 
price  on  this  here  little  weskit." 

"  Would  eighteenpence  be" — I  hinted,  after  some  hesitation. 

Mr.  Dolloby  rolled  it  up  again,  and  gave  it  me  back.  "  I  should 
rob  my  family,"  he  said,  '•  if  I  was  to  offer  ninepence  for  it." 

This  was  a  disagreeable  way  of  putting  the  business ;  because  it 
imposed  upon  me,  a  perfect  stranger,  the  unpleasantness  of  asking 
Mr.  Dolloby  to  rob  his  family  on  my  account.  ^ly  circumstances 
being  so  very  pressing,  however,  I  said  I  would  take  ninepence  for 
it,  if  he  pleased.  Mr.  Dolloby,  not  without  some  grumbhng,  gave 
ninepence.  I  wished  him  good  night,  and  walked  out  of  the  shop, 
the  richer  by  that  sum,  and  the  poorer  by  a  waistcoat.  But  when 
I  buttoned  my  jacket,  that  was  not  much. 

Indeed,  I  foresaw  pretty  clearly  that  my  jacket  would  go  next, 
and  that  I  should  have  to  make  the  best  of  my  way  to  Dover  in  a 
shirt  and  a  pair  of  trowsers,  and  might  deem  myself  lucky  if  I  got 
there  even  in  that  trim.  But  my  mind  did  not  run  so  much  on 
this  as  might  be  supposed.  Beyond  a  general  impression  of  the 
distance  before  me,  and  of  the  young  man  ^vith  the  donkey-cart 
having  used  me  cruelly,  I  think  I  had  no  very  urgent  sense  of  my 
difficulties  when  I  once  again  set  off  with  my  ninepence  in  my 
pocket. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  223 

A  plan  had  occurred  to  me  for  passing  the  night,  which  I  waa 
going  to  carry  into  execution.  This  was,  to  lie  behind  the  wall  at 
the  back  of  my  old  school,  in  a  corner  where  there  used  to  be  a 
haystack.  I  imagined  it  would  be  a  kind  of  company  to  have  the 
boys,  and  the  bed-room  where  I  used  to  tell  the  stories,  so  near  me : 
although  the  boys  would  know  nothing  of  my  being  there,  and  the 
bed-room  would  3'ield  me  no  shelter. 

I  had  had  a  hard  day's  work,  and  was  pretty  well  jaded  when  I 
came  climbing  out,  at  last,  upon  the  level  of  Blackheath.  It  cost 
me  some  trouble  to  find  out  Salem  House  ;  but  I  found  it,  and  I 
found  a  haystack  in  the  corner,  and  I  lay  down  by  it ;  having  first 
walked  round  the  wall,  and  looked  up  at  the  windows,  and  seen  that 
all  was  dark  and  silent  within.  Never  shall  I  forget  the  lonely  sen- 
sation of  first  lying  down,  without  a  roof  above  my  head  ! 

Sleep  came  upon  me  as  it  came  on  many  other  outcasts,  against 
whom  house-doors  were  locked,  and  house-dogs  barked,  that  night 
— and  I  dreamed  of  lying  on  my  old  school  bed,  talking  to  the  boys 
in  my  room ;  and  found  myself  sitting  upiight,  Avith  Steerforth's 
name  upon  my  lips,  looking  wildly  at  the  stars  that  were  ghstening 
and  ghmmering  above  me.  When  I  remembered  where  I  was  at 
that  untimely  hour,  a  feeling  stole  upon  me  that  made  me  get  up, 
afraid  of  I  don't  know  what,  and  walk  about.  But  the  fainter  glim- 
mering of  the  stars,  and  the  pale  light  in  the  sky  where  the  day  was 
coming,  reassured  me  :  and  my  eyes  being  very  heavy,  I  lay  down 
again,  and  slept — though  with  a  knowledge  in  my  sleep  that  it  was 
cold — until  the  warm  beams  of  the  sun,  and  the  ringing  of  tJie  get- 
ting-up  bell  at  Salem  House,  awoke  me.  If  I  could  have  hoped  that 
Steerforth  was  there,  I  would  have  lurked  about  until  he  came  out 
alone  ;  but  I  knew  he  must  have  left  long  since.  Traddles  still  re- 
mained, perhaps,  but  it  was  very  doubtful ;  and  I  had  not  sufficient 
confidence  in  his  discretion  or  good  luck,  however  strong  my  reli- 
ance was  on  his  good-nature,  to  wish  to  trust  him  with  my  situation. 
So  I  crept  away  from  the  wall  as  Mr.  Creakle's  boys  were  getting 
up,  and  struck  into  the  long  dusty  track  which  I  had  first  known  to 
be  the  Dover  road  when  I  was  one  of  them,  and  when  I  little  ex- 
pected that  any  eyes  would  ever  see  me  the  wayfarer  I  was  now, 
upon  it. 


224  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

Wliat  a  different  Sunday  morning  from,  the  old  Sunday  morning 
at  Yarmouth !  In  due  time  I  heard  the  church-bells  ringing,  as  1 
plodded  on ;  and  I  met  people  who  were  going  to  church ;  and  I 
passed  a  church  or  two  where  the  congregation  were  inside,  and  the 
sound  of  singing  came  out  into  the  sun-shine,  while  the  beadle  sat 
and  cooled  himself  in  the  shade  of  the  porch,  or  stood  beneath  the 
yew-tree,  "with  his  hand  to  his  forehead,  glowering  at  me  going  by. 
But  the  peace  and  rest  of  the  old  Sunday  morning  were  on  every- 
thing, except  me.  That  was  the  difference.  I  felt  quite  wicked  in 
my  dirt  and  dust,  and  with  my  tangled  hair.  But  for  the  quiet 
pictm-e  I  had  conjured  up,  of  my  mother  in  her  youth  and  beauty, 
weeping  by  the  fire,  and  my  aunt  relenting  to  her,  I  hardly  think 
I  should  have  had  courage  to  go  on  until  next  day.  But  it  always 
went  before  me,  and  I  followed. 

I  got,  that  Sunday,  through  three-and-twenty  miles  on  the  straight 
road,  though  not  very  easily,  for  I  was  new  to  that  kind  of  toil.  I 
see  myself,  as  evening  closes  in,  coming  over  the  bridge  at  Rochester, 
footsore  and  tired,  and  eating  bread  that  I  had  bought  for  supper. 
One  or  two  httle  houses,  with  the  notice,  "  Lodgings  for  Travellers," 
hanging  out,  had  tempted  me ;  but  I  was  afi-aid  of  spending  the 
few  pence  I  had,  and  was  even  more  afraid  of  the  ncious  looks  of 
the  trampers  I  had  met  or  overtaken.  I  sought  no  shelter,  there- 
fore, but  the  sky ;  and  toihng  into  Chatham, — which,  in  that  night's 
aspect,  is  a  mere  di'eam  of  chalk,  and  drawbridges,  and  mastless 
ships  in  a  muddy  river,  roofed  hke  Noah's  arks, — crept,  at  last, 
upon  a  sort  of  grass-grown  battery  overhanging  a  lane,  where  a 
sentry  was  walking  to  and  fro.  Here  I  lay  down,  near  a  cannon  ; 
and,  happy  in  the  society  of  the  sentry's  footsteps,  though  he  knew 
no  more  of  my  being  above  him  than  the  boys  at  Salem  House 
had  known  of  my  lying  by  the  wall,  slept  soundly  untU  morn- 

Very  stiff  and  sore  of  foot  I  was  in  the  morning,  and  quite  dazed 
by  the  beating  of  drums  and  marching  of  troops,  which  seemed  to 
hem  me  in  on  every  side  when  I  went  down  towards  the  long  nar- 
row street.  Feeling  that  I  could  go  but  a  very  little  way  that  day, 
if  I  were  to  reserve  any  strength  for  getting  to  my  joumey*s  end,  I 
resolved  to  make  the  sale  of  my  jacket  its  principal  ousinesa.     Ac- 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  225 

cordingl  J,  I  took  the  jacket  oflf,  that  I  might  learn  to  do  without  it ; 
and  carrying  it  un'ler  my  arm,  began  a  tour  of  inspection  of  the 
various  slop-shops. 

It  was  a  likely  place  to  sell  a  jacket  in ;  for  the  dealers  in  second- 
hand clothes  were  numerous,  and  were,  generally  speaking,  on  the 
look-out  for  customei^s  at  their  sho]>doors.  But  as  most  of  them 
had,  hanging  up  among  their  stock,  an  officer's  coat  or  two,  epauletts 
and  all,  I  was  rendered  timid  by  the  costly  nature  of  their  dealings, 
and  walked  about  for  a  long  time  without  oftering  my  merchandize 
to  any  one. 

This  modesty  of  mine  directed  my  attention  to  the  marine-store 
shops,  and  such  shops  as  Mr.  Dolloby's,  in  preference  to  the  regular 
dealers.  At  last  I  found  one  that  I  thought  looked  promising,  at 
the  corner  of  a  dirty  lane,  ending  in  an  inclosure  full  of  stinging 
nettles,  against  the  paling-s  of  which  some  second-hand  sailors* 
clothes,  that  seemed  to  have  overflowed  the  shop,  were  fluttering 
among  some  cots,  and  rusty  guns,  and  oilskin  hats,  and  certain  trays 
full  of  so  many  old  rusty  keys  of  so  many  sizes  that  they  seemed 
various  enough  to  open  all  the  doors  in  the  woi'ld. 

Into  this  shop,  which  was  low  and  small,  and  which  was  darkened 
rather  than  hghted  by  a  little  window,  overhung  with  clothes,  and 
was  descended  into  by  some  steps,  I  went  with  a  palpitating  heart ; 
which  was  not  relieved  when  an  ugly  old  man,  with  the  lower  part 
of  his  face  all  covered  with  a  stubbly  grey  beard,  rushed  out  of  a 
dirty  den  behind  it,  and  seized  me  by  the  hair  of  my  head.  He 
was  a  dreadful  old  man  to  look  at,  in  a  filthy  flannel  waistcoat,  and 
smelling  terribly  of  rum.  His  bedstead,  covered  with  a  tumbled 
and  ragged  piece  of  patchwork,  was  in  the  den  he  had  come  from, 
where  another  little  window  showed  a  prospect  of  more  stinging 
nettles,  and  a  lame  donkey. 

I  "  Oh,  what  do  you  want  ?"  grinned  this  old  man,  in  a  fierce, 
monotonous  whine.  "  Oh,  my  eyes  and  limbs,  what  do  you  want  ? 
Oh,  my  lungs  and  liver,  what  do  you  want  ?     Oh,  goroo,  goroo  !" 

I  was  so  much  dismayed  by  these  words,  and  particularly  by  the 
repetition  of  the  last  unknown  one,  which  was  a  kind  of  rattle  in 
his  throat,  that  I  could  make  no  answer;  hereupon  the  old  man, 
still  hokUng  me  by  the  hair,  repeated  : 

14 


226  IXAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Oh,  what  do  you  want  ?  Oh,  my  eyes  and  Hmbs,  what  do  you 
want  ?  Oh,  my  lungs  and  liver,  what  do  you  want !  Oh,  goroo !" 
— which  he  screamed  out  of  himself,  with  an  energy  that  made  his 
eyes  start  in  his  head. 

"  I  wanted  to  know,"  I  said,  trembhng,  "  if  you  would  buy  a 
jacket." 

"  Oh,  let's  see  the  jacket !"  cried  the  old  man.  "  Oh,  my  heart 
on  fii'e,  show  the  jacket  to  us !  Oh,  my  eyes  and  limbs,  bring  the 
jacket  out ! " 

With  that  he  took  his  trembhng  hands,  which  were  hke  the  claws 
of  a  great  bird,  out  of  my  hair  ;  and  put  on  a  pair  of  spectacles, 
not  at  all  ornamental  to  his  inflamed  eyes. 

"  Oh,  how  much  for  the  jacket  ? "  cried  the  old  man,  after  ex- 
amining it.     "  Oh — goroo ! — how  much  for  the  jacket  ? " 

"  Half-a-crown,"  I  answered,  recovering  myself. 

"  Oh,  my  lungs  and  liver,"  cried  the  old  man,  "  no !  Oh,  my 
eyes,  no  !     Oh,  my  hmbs,  no  !     Eighteenpence.     Goroo ! " 

Every  time  he  uttered  this  ejaculation,  his  eyes  seemed  to  be  in 
danger  of  starting  out ;  and  every  sentence  he  spoke,  he  delivered 
in  a  sort  of  tune,  always  exactly  the  same,  and  more  like  a  gust  of 
wind,  which  begins  low,  mounts  up  high,  and  falls  again,  than  any 
othei'  comparison  I  can  find  for  it. 

"  Well,"  said  I,  glad  to  have  closed  the  bargain,  "  I'll  take 
eighteenpence." 

"  Oh,  my  hver ! "  cried  the  old  man,  throwing  the  jacket  on  a 
shelf  "  Get  out  of  the  shop  !  Oh,  my  lungs,  get  out  of  the  shop ! 
Oh,  my  eyes  and  hmbs — goroo  ! — don't  ask  for  money  ;  make  it  an 
exchange." 

I  never  was  so  frightened  in  my  hfe,  before  or  since  ;  but  I  told 
him  humbly  that  I  wanted  money,  and  that  nothing  else  was  of  any 
use  to  me,  but  that  I  would  wait  for  it,  as  he  desired,  outside,  and 
had  no  wish  to  hurry  him.  So  I  went  outside,  and  sat  down  in  the 
shade  in  a  corner.  And  I  sat  there  so  many  hours,  that  the  shade 
became  sunlight,  and  the  sunhght  became  shade  again,  and  still  I 
sat  there  waiting  foi  the  money. 

There  never  was  such  another  drunken  madman  in  that  line  of 
business,  I  hope.     That  he  was  well  known  in  the  neighbourhood, 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  227 

and  enjoyed  the  reputation  of  having  sold  himself  to  the  devil,  I 
soon  understood  fi'om  the  visits  he  received  fi'om  the  boys,  who 
continually  came  skirmishing  about  the  shop,  shouting  that  legend, 
and  calling  to  him  to  bring  out  his  gold.  "  You  ain't  poor,  you 
know,  Charley,  as  you  pretend.  Bring  out  your  gold.  Bring  out 
some  of  the  gold  you  sold  yourself  to  the  devil  for.  Come !  It's 
in  the  lining  of  the  mattress,  Charley.  Rip  it  open  and  let's  have 
some  ! "  This,  and  many  offers  to  lend  him  a  knife  for  the  pirpose, 
exasperated  him  to  such  a  degree,  that  the  whole  day  was  a  succes- 
sion of  rushes  on  his  part,  and  flights  on  the  part  of  the  boys. 
Sometimes  in  his  rage  he  would  take  me  for  one  of  them,  and  come 
at  me,  mouthing  as  if  he  were  going  to  tear  me  in  pieces  ;  then, 
remembering  me,  just  in  time,  would  dive  into  the  shop,  and  he 
upon  his  bed,  as  I  thought  from  the  sound  of  his  voice,  yelling  in  a 
frantic  way,  to  his  own  windy  tune,  the  Death  of  Nelson ;  with'  an 
Oh  !  before  every  line,  and  innumerable  Goroos  interspersed.  As 
if  this  were  not  bad  enough  for  me,  the  boys,  connecting  me  with 
the  establishment,  on  account  of  the  patience  and  perseverance 
with  which  I  sat  outside,  half-dressed,  pelted  me,  and  used  me  very 
ill  all  day. 

He  made  many  attempts  to  induce  me  to  consent  to  an  exchange ; 
at  one  time  coming  out  with  a  fishing-rod,  at  another  with  a  fiddle, 
at  another  with  a  cocked  hat,  at  another  with  a  flute.  But  I 
resisted  all  these  overtures,  and  sat  there  in  desperation  ;  each  time 
asking  him,  with  tears  in  my  eyes,  for  my  money  or  my  jacket.  At 
last  he  began  to  pay  me  in  halfpence  at  a  time ;  and  was  full  two 
hours  getting  by  easy  stages  to  a  shilling. 

"  Oh,  my  eyes  and  limbs  ! "  he  then  ci'ied,  peeping  hideously  out 
of  the  shop,  after  a  long  pause,  "  will  you  go  for  twopence  more  ?" 
« I  can't,"  I  said  ;  "  I  shall  be  starved." 
"  Oh,  my  lungs  and  hver,  will  you  go  for  threepence  ? " 
"  I  would  go  for  nothing,  if  I  could,"  I  said,  "  but  I  want  thft 
money  badly." 

"  Oh,  go — roo ! "  (it  is  really  impossible  to  express  how  he 
twisted  this  ejaculation  out  of  himself,  as  he  peeped  round  the  door- 
post at  me,  showing  nothing  but  his  crafty  old  head) ;  "  will  you  go 
for  fourpence  ? " 


228  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  was  so  faint  and  weary  that  I  closed  with  this  offer;  and  taking 
the  money  out  of  his  claw,  not  without  trembhng,  went  away  more 
hunofry  and  thirsty  than  I  had  ever  been,  a  httle  before  sunset.  But 
at  an  expense  of  threepence  I  soon  refreshed  myself  completely  ; 
and,  being  in  better  spirits  then,  limped  seven  miles  upon  my 
road. 

My  bed  at  night  was  under  another  haystack,  where  I  rested 
comfortably,  after  having  washed  my- blistered  feet  in  a  stream,  and 
di'essed  them  as  well  as  I  was  able,  with  some  cool  leaves.  When 
I  took  the  road  again  next  morning,  I  found  that  it  lay  through  a 
succession  of  hop-grounds  and  orchards.  It  was  sufficiently  late  in 
the  year  for  the  orchards  to  be  ruddy  with  ripe  apples ;  and  in  a  few 
places  the  hop-pickers  were  already  at  work.  I  thought  it  all  ex- 
tremely beautiful,  and  made  up  my  mind  to  sleep  among  the  hops 
that  night :  imagining  some  cheerful  companionship  in  the  long 
perspectives  of  poles,  with  the  graceful  leaves  twining  round  them. 

The  trampers  were  worse  than  ever  that  day,  and  mspired  me 
with  a  dread  that  is  yet  quite  fresh  in  my  mind.  Some  of  them 
were  most  ferocious-looking  ruffians,  who  stared  at  me  as  I  went  by  ; 
and  stopped,  perhaps,  and  called  after  me  to  come  back  and  speak 
to  them ;  and  when  I  took  to  my  heels,  stoned  me.  I  recollect  one 
young  fellow — a  tinker,  I  suppose,  from  his  wallet  and  brazier — who 
had  a  woman  with  him,  and  who  faced  about  and  stared  at  me 
thus  ;  and  then  roared  at  me  in  such  a  tremendous  voice  to  come 
back,  that  I  halted  and  looked  round. 

"  Come  here,  when  you  're  called,"  said  the  tinker,  "  or  I  '11  rip 
your  young  body  open." 

I  thought  it  best  to  go  back.  As  I  drew  nearer  to  them,  trying 
to  propitiate  the  tinker  by  my  looks,  I  observed  that  the  woman  had 
a  black  eye. 

"  Where  are  you  going  ? "  said  the  tinker,  griping  the  bosom  of 
my  shirt  with  his  blackened  hand. 

"  I  am  going  to  Dover,"  I  said. 

"  Where  do  you  come  from  ?  "  asked  the  tinker,  giving  his  hand 
another  turn  in  my  shirt,  to  hold  me  more  securely. 

"  I  come  from  London,"  I  said. 

"  What  lay  are  you  upon  ? "  asked  the  tinker.  "  Are  you  a 
prig?" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  229 

**N"— no,"Isaid. 

"  Ain't  you,  by  G —  ?  If  you  make  a  brag  of  your  honesty  to 
me,"  said  the  tinker,  "  I  '11  knock  your  brains  out." 

With  his  disengaged  hand  he  made  a  menace  of  striking  me,  and 
then  looked  at  me  from  head  to  foot. 

"  Have  you  got  the  price  of  a  pint  of  beer  about  you  ? "  said  the 
tinker.     "  It'  you  have,  out  \vith  it,  afore  I  take  it  aM'ay  !  " 

I  should  certainly  have  produced  it,  but  that  I  met  the  woman's 
look,  and  saw  her  very  slightly  shake  her  head,  and  form  "  No  ! " 
with  her  hps. 

"  I  am  very  poor,"  I  said,  attempting  to  smile,  "  and  have  got  no 
money." 

"  Why,  what  do  you  mean  ? "  said  the  tinker,  looking  so  sternly 
at  me,  that  I  almost  feared  he  saw  the  money  in  my  pocket. 

"  Sir  ! "  I  stammered. 

"  What  do  you  mean,"  said  the  tinker,  "  by  wearing  my  brother's 
silk  handkercher  ?  Give  it  over  here  ! "  And  he  had  mine  off  my 
neck  in  a  moment,  and  tossed  it  to  the  woman. 

The  woman  burst  into  a  fit  of  laugliter,  as  if  she  thought  this  a 
joke^  and  tossing  it  back  to  me,  nodded  once,  as  slightly  as  before, 
and  made  the  word  "  Go  ! "  with  her  hps.  Before  I  could  obey, 
however,  the  tinker  seized  the  handkerchief  out  of  my  hand  ^^•ith  a 
roughness  that  threw  me  away  like  a  feather,  and  putting  it  loosely 
round  his  owti  neck,  turned  upon  the  woman  with  an  oath,  and 
knocked  her  down.  I  never  shall  forget  seeing  her  fall  backward  on 
the  hard  road,  and  he  there  with  her  bonnet  tumbled  off,  and  her 
hair  all  wliitened  in  the  dust ;  nor,  when  I  looked  back  from  a  dis- 
tance, seeing  her  sitting  on  the  pathway,  which  was  a  bank  by  the 
roadside,  wiping  the  blood  from  her  face  with  a  corner  of  her  shawl, 
while  he  went  on  ahead. 

This  adventure  frightened  me  so,  that,  afterwards,  when  I  saw 
any  of  these  people  coming,  I  turned  back  until  I  could  find  a 
hiding-place,  where  I  remained  until  they  had  gone  out  of  sight; 
which  happened  so  oftert,  that  I  was  very  seriously  delayed.  But 
under  this  difficulty,  as  under  all  the  other  difficulties  of  my  journey, 
I  seemed  to  be  sustained  and  led  on  by  my  fanciful  jticture  of  my 
mother  in  her  youth,  before  I  came  into  the  world.     It  always  kep< 


230  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

ine  company.  It  was  there,  among  the  hops,  when  I  lay  down  ta 
sleep  ;  it  was  with  me  on  my  w^aking  in  the  morning ;  it  went  be 
fore  me  all  day.  I  have  associated  it,  ever  since,  with  the  sunny 
street  of  Canterbury,  dozing  as  it  were  in  the  hot  light ;  and  with 
the  sight  of  its  old  houses  and  gateways,  and  the  stately,  grey 
Cathedral,  with  the  rooks  sailing  round  the  towers.  When  I  came, 
at  last,  upon  the  bare,  wide  downs  near  Dover,  it  relieved  the  soli- 
tary aspect  of  the  scene  with  hope ;  and  not  until  I  reached  that 
first  great  aim  of  my  journey,  and  actually  set  foot  in  the  town 
itself,  on  the  sixth  day  of  my  flight,  did  it  desert  me.  But  then, 
strange  to  say,  when  I  stood  with  my  ragged  shoes,  and  my  dusty, 
sunburnt,  half-clothed  figure,  in  the  place  so  long  desired,  it  seemed 
to  vanish  hke  a  dream,  and  to  leave  me  helpless  and  dispirited. 

I  inquired  about  my  aunt  among  the  boatmen  fii'st,  and  received 
various  answers.  One  said  she  hved  in  the  South  Foreland  Light, 
and  had  singed  her  whiskers  by  doing  so ;  another,  that  she  was 
made  fast  to  the  gi-eat  buoy  outside  the  harbor,  and  could  only  be 
visited  at  half-tide ;  a  third,  that  she  was  locked  up  in  Maidstone 
Jail  for  child-steaHng ;  a  fourth,  that  she  was  seen  to  mount  a  broom 
in  the  last  high  ^^ind,  and  make  direct  for  Calais.  The  fly-drivers, 
among  whom  I  inquired  next,  were  equally  jocose  and  equally  disre- 
epectful ;  and  the  shopkeepere,  not  liking  my  appearance,  generally 
rephed,  without  hearing  what  I  had  to  say,  that  they  had  got  no- 
thing for  me.  I  felt  more  miserable  and  destitute  than  I  had  done 
at  any  period  of  my  running  away.  My  money  was  all  gone,  I  had 
nothing  left  to  dispose  of ;  I  was  hungry,  thirsty,  and  worn  out ; 
and  seemed  as  distant  from  my  end  as  if  I  had  remained  in  London. 

The  morning  had  worn  away  in  these  inquiries,  and  I  was  sitting 
on  the  step  of  an  empty  shop  at  a  street  corner,  near  the  market- 
place, dehberating  upon  wandering  towards  those  other  places  w^hich 
had  been  mentioned,  when  a  fly-driver,  coming  by  with  his  carriage, 
dropi^ed  a  horsecloth.  Something  good-natured  in  the  man's  face, 
as  I  handed  it  up,  encouraged  me  to  ask  him  if  he  could  tell 
me  where  Miss  Trotwood  Uved ;  though  I  had  asked  the  question 
so  often,  that  it  almost  died  upon  my  Ups. 

"  Trotwood,"  said  he.  "  Let  me  see.  I  know  the  name,  too. 
Old  lady?" 


DAVID    COrPERFIELD.  231 

**Yes,"Isaid,  "rather." 

"  Pretty  stiff  in  the  back  ?"  said  he,  making  himself  upright. 

"  Yes,"  I  said.     "  I  should  think  it  very  likely." 

"  Carries  a  bag?"  said  he — "  bag  with  a  good  deal  of  room  in  it 
— is  gruffish,  and  comes  down  u})on  you,  sharp  ?  " 

My  heart  sunk  wthin  me  as  I  acknowledged  the  undoubted  ac- 
curacy of  this  description. 

"  Why  then,  I  tell  you  what,"  said  he.  "  If  you  go  up  there," 
pointing  with  his  whip  towards  the  heights,  "  and  keep  right 
on  till  you  come  to  some  houses  facing  the  sea,  I  think  you'll  hear 
of  her.  My  opinion  is  she  won't  stand  anything,  so  here's  a  penny 
for  you." 

I  accepted  the  gift  thankfully,  and  bought  a  loaf  with  it.  Dis- 
patching this  refreshment  by  the  way,  I  went  in  the  direction  my 
friend  had  indicated,  and  walked  on  a  good  distance  without  coming 
to  the  houses  he  had  mentioned.  At  length  I  saw  some  before  me ; 
and  approaching  them,  went  into  a  little  shop  (it  w^as  what  we  used 
to  call  a  general  shop,  at  home),  and  in<|uired  if  they  could  have  the 
goodness  to  toll  me  where  Miss  Trotwood  lived.  I  addressed  myself 
to  a  man  behind  the  counter,  who  was  weighing  some  rice  for  a 
young  woman  ;  but  the  latter  taking  the  inquiry  to  herself,  turned 
round  quickly. 

"  My  mistress  ?"  she  said.     "  What  do  you  want  with  her,  boy  ? " 

"  I  want,"  I  replied,  "  to  speak  to  her,  if  you  please." 

"  To  beg  of  her,  you  mean,"  retorted  the  damsel. 

"  No "  I  said,  "  indeed."  But  suddenly  remembering  that  in 
truth  I  came  for  no  other  purpose,  I  held  my  peace  in  confusion,  and 
felt  my  face  bum. 

My  aunt's  handmaid,  as  I  supposed  she  was  from  what  she  had 
said,  put  her  rice  in  a  little  basket  and  walked  out  of  the  shop ;  tell- 
ing me  that  I  could  fellow  her,  if  I  wanted  to  know  where  Miss 
Trotwood  hved.  I  needed  no  second  permission ;  though  I  was  by 
this  time  in  such  a  state  of  consternation  and  agitation,  that  my  legs 
shook  under  me.  I  followed  the  young  woman,  and  we  soon  came 
to  a  very  neat  httle  cottage  with  cheerful  bow-windows :  in  ft  >nt  of 
it,  a  small  square  gravelled  court  or  garden  full  of  flowers,  carefully 
tended,  and  smelhng  deliciously. 


232  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  This  is  Miss  Trotwood's,"  said  the  young  woman.  "  Now  yov 
know ;  and  thaf  s  all  I  have  got  to  say."  With  which  words  sha 
hurried  into  the  house,  as  if  to  shake  off  the  responsibility  of  my 
appearance ;  and  left  me  standing  at  the  garden-gate,  looking  dis- 
consolately over  the  top  of  it  towards  the  parlor  window,  where  a 
mushn  curtain  partly  undrawn  in  the  middle,  a  large  round  green 
screen  or  fan  fastened  on  to  the  window-sill,  a  small  table,  and  a 
great  chair,  suggested  to  me  that  my  aunt  might  be  at  that  moment 
seated  in  awful  state. 

My  shoes  were  by  this  time  in  a  woeful  condition.  The  soles  had 
shed  themselves  bit  by  bit,  and  the  upper  leathers  had  broken  and 
burst  until  the  very  shape  and  form  of  shoes  had  departed  from 
them.  My  hat  (which  had  served  me  for  a  night-cap,  too)  was  so 
ci-ushed  and  bent,  that  no  old  battered  handle-less  saucepan  on  a 
dunghill  need  have  been  ashamed  to  vie  with  it.  My  shirt  and 
trowsers,  stained  with  heat,  dew,  grass,  and  the  Kentish  soil  on  which 
I  had  slept — and  torn  besides — might  have  frightened  the  birds 
fi'om  my  aunt's  garden,  as  I  stood  at  the  gate.  My  hair  had  known 
no  comb  or  brush  since  I  left  London.  My  face,  neck,  and  hands, 
from  unaccustomed  exposure  to  the  air  and  sun,  were  burnt  to  a 
beny  brown.  From  head  to  foot  I  was  powdered  almost  as  white 
with  chalk  and  dust,  as  if  I  had  come  out  of  a  lime-kiln.  In  this 
plight,  and  with  a  strong  consciousness  of  it,  I  waited  to  introduce 
myself  to,  and  make  my  first  impression  on,  my  formidable  aimt. 

The  unbroken  stillness  of  the  parlor  window  leading  me  to  infer, 
after  a- while,  that  she  was  not  there,  I  lifted  up  my  eyes  to  the  win- 
dow above  it,  where  I  saw  a  florid,  pleasant-looking  gentleman,  with 
a  grey  head,  who  shut  up  one  eye  in  a  grotesque  manner,  nodded 
his  head  at  me  several  times,  shook  it  at  me  as  often,  laughed,  and 
went  away. 

I  had  been  discomposed  enough  before ;  but  I  was  so  much  the 
more  discomposed  by  this  unexpected  behaviour,  that  I  was  on  the 
point  of  slinking  off,  to  think  how  I  had  best  proceed,  when  there 
came  out  of  the  house  a  lady  with  a  handkerchief  tied  over  her  cap, 
and  a  pair  of  gardening  gloves  on  her  hands,  wearing  a  gardening 
pocket  uke  a  tollman's  apron,  and  arrying  a  great  knife.  I  knew 
lier  immediately  to  be  Miss  Betsey,  for  she  '^''"^e  s+i'iking  out  of  the 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  233 

Louse  exactly  as  my  poor  mother  had  so  often  described  her  stalking 
up  our  garden  at  Bluiiderstone  Rookery.  • 

"  Go  away !"  said  Miss  Betsey,  shaking  her  head,  and  making 
a  distant  chop  in  the  air  with  her  knife.  "  Go  along !  No  buys 
here  !" 

I  watched  her,  with  my  heart  at  my  lips,  as  she  marched  to  a 
corner  of  her  garden,  and  stooped  to  dig  up  some  little  root  there. 
Then,  without  a  scrap  of  courage,  but  with  a  great  deal  of  despera- 
tion, I  went  softly  in  and  stood  beside  her,  touching  her  with  my 
finger. 

"  If  you  please,  ma'am,"  I  began. 

She  started,  and  looked  up. 

"  If  you  please,  aunt." 

"  Eh  ?"  exclaimed  Miss  Betsey,  in  a  tone  of  amazement  I  have 
never  heard  approached. 

"  If  you  please,  aunt,  I  am  your  nephew." 

"  Oh,  Lord  I"  said  my  aunt.  And  sat  flat  down  in  the  garden- 
path. 

"  I  am  David  Coppei-field,  of  Blunderstone,  in  Suffolk — where  you 
came,  on  the  night  when  I  was  born,  and  saw  my  dear  mama.  I 
have  been  very  unhappy  since  she  died.  I  have  been  slighted,  and 
taught  nothing,  and  thrown  upon  myself,  and  put  to  work  not  lit  for 
me.  It  made  me  run  away  to  you.  I  was  robbed  at  first  setting 
out,  and  have  walked  all  the  way,  and  have  never  slept  in  a  bed 
since  I  began  the  journey."  Here  my  self-support  gave  way  all  at 
once  ;  and  with  a  movement  of  my  hands,  intended  to  show  her  my 
ragged  state,  and  call  it  to  witness  that  I  had  suffered  something,  I 
broke  into  a  passion  of  crying,  which  I  suppose  had  been  pent  up 
within  me  all  the  week. 

My  aunt,  with  every  sort  of  expression  but  wonder  discharged 
from  her  countenance,  sat  on  the  gravel,  staring  at  me,  until  I  began 
to  cry  ;  when  she  got  up  in  a  great  hurry,  collared  me,  and  took  mo 
into  the  parlor.  ELer  first  proceeding  there  was  to  unlock  a  tall 
press,  bring  out  several  bottles,  and  pour  some  of  the  contents  of 
each  into  my  mouth.  I  think  they  must  have  been  taken  out  at 
random,  for  I  am  sure  I  tasted  aniseed  water,  anchov)'^  sauce,  and 
Balad  dressing.     When  she  had  administered  these  restoratives,  as  I 


234  DAVID    COrrERFIELD. 

was  still  quite  hysterical,  and  unable  to  control  my  sobs,  she  put  me 
on  the  sofa,  with  a  shawl  under  my  head,  and  the  handkerchief  fi-om 
her  own  head  under  my  feet,  lest  I  should  sully  the  cover ;  and  then, 
sitting  herself  down  behind  the  green  fan  or  screen  I  have  already 
mentioned,  so  that  I  could  not  see  her  face,  ejaculated  at  intervals, 
"  Mercy  on  us  !"  letting  those  exclamations  off  like  minute  guns. 

After  a  time  she  rang  the  bell.  "  Janet,"  said  my  aunt,  when  her 
servant  came  in.  "  Go  up  stairs,  give  my  comphments  to  Mr.  Dick, 
and  say  I  wish  to  speak  to  him." 

Janet  looked  a  httle  surprised  to  see  me  lying  stiffly  on  the  sofa 
(I  was  afraid  to  move  lest  it  should  be  displeasing  to  my  aunt),  but 
went  on  her  errand.  My  aunt,  with  her  hands  behind  her,  walked 
up  and  do^Ti  the  room,  until  the  gentleman  who  had  squinted  at  me 
from  the  upper  window  came  in  laughing. 

.  "  Mr.  Dick,"  said  my  aunt,  "  don't  be  a  fool,  because  nobody  can 
be  more  discreet  than  you  can,  when  you  choose.  We  all  know 
that.     So  don't  be  a  fool,  whatever  you  are." 

The  gentleman  was  serious  immediately,  and  looked  at  me,  T 
thought,  as  if  he  would  entreat  me  to  say  nothing  about  the 
window. 

"  Mr.  Dick,"  said  my  aunt,  "  you  have  heard  me  mention  Da\id 
CopperjSeld  ?  Now  don't  pretend  not  to  have  a  memory,  because 
you  and  I  know  better." 

"  Da\id  Copperfield  ?"  said  Mr.  Dick,  who  did  not  appear  to  me 
to  remember  much  about  it.  "  Da\id  Copperfeld  !  O  yes,  to  be 
sure.     David,  certainly." 

"  Well,"  said  my  aunt,  "  this  is  his  boy — ^his  son.  He  would  be 
as  hke  his  father  as  it's  possible  to  be,  if  he  was  not  so  like  his 
mother,  too." 

"  His  son  ?"  said  Mr.  Dick.     "  Da%dd's  son  ?     Indeed !" 

"  Yes,"  pursued  my  aunt,  "  and  he  has  done  a  pretty  piece  of 
business.  He  has  run  away.  Ah  !  His  sister,  Betsey  Trotwood, 
never  would  have  run  away."  My  aunt  shook  her  head  firmly, 
confident  in  the  character  and  behaviour  of  the  girl  who  never  was 
born. 

"  Oh  I  you  think  she  wouldn't  have  run  away  ?"  said  Mr.  D.ck. 

"  Bless  and  save  the  man,"  exclaimed  my  aunt,  sharply,  '•  how  he 


Vvivi^^r^/ 


I  make  Mj-self  known  to  my  Aunt 


Of 


cs  \ 


mm^^'^^ 


aUHO^S 


DAVID     COrPERFIELD.  235 

talks!  Don't  I  know  she  wouldn't ?  She  would  have  lived  with 
her  god-mother,  and  we  should  have  been  devoted  to  one  another. 
Where,  in  the  name  of  wonder,  should  his  sister,  Betsey  Trotwood, 
have  run  from,  or  to  ?" 

"  Nowhere,"  said  Mr.  Dick. 

"  AVell  then,"  returned  my  aunt,  softened  by  the  reply,  "  how  can 
/ou  pretend  to  be  wool-gathering,  Dick,  whefi  you  are  as  sharp  as  a 
surgeon's  lancet  ?  Now,  here  you  see  young  David  Copperfield,  and 
the  question  I  put  to  you  is,  what  shall  I  do  with  him  ?" 

"What shall  you  do  with  him?"  said  Mr.  Dick,  feebly,  scratching 
his  head.     "  Oh  !  do  with  him  ?" 

"  Yes,"  said  my  aunt,  with  a  grave  look  and  her  forefinger  held 
up.     "  Come  !  I  w^ant  some  very  sound  addce." 

"  Why,  if  I  was  you,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  considering,  and  looking 
vacantly  at  me,  "  I  should — "  Hie  contemplation  of  me  seemed  to 
inspire  him  vsith  a  sudden  idea,  and  he  added,  briskly,  "  I  should 
wash  him  !" 

"  J  unet,"  said  my  aunt,  turning  round  with  a  quiet  triumph,  which 
I  did  not  then  undei'stand,  "  Mr.  Dick  sets  us  all  right.  Heat  the 
bath !" 

Although  I  was  deeply  interested  in  this  dialogue,  I  could  not 
help  observing  my  aunt,  Mr.  Dick,  and  Janet,  while  it  was  in  pro- 
gress, and  completing  a  survey  I  had  already  been  engaged  in 
makinij  of  the  room. 

My  aunt  was  a  tall,  hard-foatured  lady,  but  by  no  means  ill- 
looking.  There  was  an  inflexibility  in  her  face,  in  her  voice,  in  her 
gait  and  carriage,  amply  sufficient  to  account  for  the  effect  she  had 
made  upon  a  gentle  creature  like  my  mother ;  but  her  features  were 
rather  handsome  than  otherwise,  though  unbending  and  austere.  I 
particularly  noticed  that  she  had  a  very  quick,  bright,  eye.  Her 
hair,  which  was  grey,  was  aiTanged  in  two  plain  divisions,  under 
what  I  believe  would  be  called  a  mob-cap :  I  mean  a  cap,  much 
more  common  then  than  now,  with  side-pieces  fastening  under  the 
chin.  Iler  dress  was  of  a  lavender  color,  and  perfectly  neat ;  but 
scantily  made,  as  if  she  desired  to  be  as  little  encumbered  as  possible. 
I  remember  that  I  thoffght  it,  in  form,  more  like  a  riding-habit  with 
the  superfluous  skirt  cut  off,  than  anything  else.     She  wore  at  her 


236  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

Bide  a  gentleman's  gold  watcli,  if  I  might  judge  from  its  size  and 
make,  with  an  appropriate  chain  and  seals  ;  she  had  some  linen  at 
her  throat  not  unlike  a  shu-t-collar,  and  things  at  her  wrists  hke  little 
shirt-wristbands. 

Mr.  Dick,  as  I  have  already  said,  was  grey-headed,  and  florid :  I 
should  have  said  all  about  him,  in  saying  so,  had  not  his  herd  been 
curiously  bowed — not  by  age  ;  it  reminded  me  of  one  of  Mr.  Creakle's 
boys'  heads  after  a  beating — and  his  grey  eyes  prominent  and  large, 
with  a  strange  kind  of  watery  brightness  in  them  that  made  me,  in 
combination  with  his  vacant  manner,  his  submission  to  my  aunt,  and 
his  childish  dehght  when  she  praised  him,  suspect  him  of  being  a  lit- 
tle mad ;  though,  if  he  were  mad,  how  he  came  to  be  there  puzzled 
me  extremely.  He  was  dressed  like  any  other  ordinary  gentleman, 
in  a  loose  grey  morning  coat  and  waistcoat,  and  white  trowsers  ;  and 
had  his  watch  in  his  fob,  and  his  money  in  his  pockets ;  which  he 
rattled  as  if  he  were  very  proud  of  it. 

Janet  was  a  pretty  blooming  girl,  of  about  nineteen  or  twenty,  and 
a  perfect  picture  of  neatness.  Though  I  made  no  further  observation 
of  her  at  the  moment,  I  may  mention  here  what  I  did  not  discover 
until  afterwards,  namely,  that  she  was  one  of  a  series  of  protegees 
whom  my  aunt  had  taken  into  her  ser^^ce  expressly  to  educate  in  a 
renouncement  of  mankind,  and  who  had  generally  completed  their 
abjuration  by  marrying  the  baker. 

The  room  was  as  neat  as  Janet  or  my  aunt.  As  I  laid  down  my 
pen,  a  moment  since,  to  think  of  it,  the  air  from  the  sea  came  blow- 
ing in  again,  mixed  with  the  perfume  of  tlie  flowers  ;  and  I  saw  the 
old-fashioned  furniture  brightly  rubbed  and  polished,  my  aunt's  invio- 
lable chair  and  table  by  the  round  green  fan  in  the  bow-window,  the 
drugget-covered  carpet,  the  cat,  the  kettle-holder,  the  two  canaries, 
the  old  china,  the  punchbowl  full  of  dried  rose  leaves,  the  tall  press 
guarding  all  sorts  of  bottles  and  pots,  and,  wonderfully  out  of  keep- 
ing with  the  rest,  my  dusty  self  upon  the  sofa,  taking  note  of  every- 
thinor. 

Janet  had  gone  away  to  get  the  bath  ready,  when  my  aunt,  to 
my  gi'eat  alarm,  became  in  one  moment  rigid  with  indignation,  and 
had  hardly  voice  to  cry  out,  "  Janet !  Donki«6  ! " 

Upon  which,  Janet  came  running  up  the  stairs  as  if  the  house 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  237 

were  in  flames,  darted  out  on  a  little  piece  of  green  in  front,  and 
warned  off  two  saddle-donkeys,  lady-ridden,  that  had  presumed  to  set 
hoof  upon  it ;  while  my  aunt,  rushing  out  of  the  house,  seized  the 
bridle  of  a  third  animal  laden  with  a  bestriding  child,  turned  him,  led 
him  forth  from  those  sacred  precincts,  and  boxed  the  ears  of  the  un- 
lucky urchin  in  attendance  who  had  dared  to  profane  that  hallowed 
ground. 

To  this  hour  I  don't  know  whether  my  aunt  had  any  lawful  right 
of  way  over  that  patch  of  green ;  but  she  had  settled  it  in  her  own 
mind  that  she  had,  and  it  was  all  the  same  to  her.  The  one  great 
outrage  of  her  life,  demanding  to  be  constantly  avenged,  was  the 
passage  of  a  donkey  over  that  immaculate  spot.  In  whatever  occu- 
pation she  was  engaged,  however  interesting  to  her  the  conversation 
in  which  she  was  taking  part,  a  donkey  turned  the  current  of  her 
ideas  in  a  moment,  and  she  was  upon  him  straight.  Jugs  of  water 
and  watering  pots  were  kept  in  secret  places  ready  to  be  discharged 
on  the  offending  boys ;  sticks  were  laid  in  ambush  behind  the  door ; 
salhes  were  made  at  all  hours  ;  and  incessant  war  prevailed.  Per- 
haps tliis  was  an  agreeable  excitement  to  the  donkey -boys ;  or  per- 
haps the  more  sagacious  of  the  donkeys,  understanding  how  the  case 
stood,  delighted  with  constitutional  obstinacy  in  coming  that  way.  I 
only  know  that  there  were  three  alarms  before  the  bath  was  ready ; 
and  that  on  the  occasion  of  the  last  and  most  desperate  of  all,  I  saw 
my  aunt  engage,  single-handed,  with  a  sandy-headed  lad  of  fifteen, 
and  bump  his  sandy  head  against  her  own  gate,  before  he  seemed  to 
comprehend  what  was  the  matter.  These  interruptions  were  the 
more  ridiculous  to  me,  because  she  was  giving  me  broth  out  of  a 
table-spoon  at  the  time  (having  firmly  ])ersuaded  herself  that  I  was 
actually  starving,  and  must  receive  nourishment  at  first  in  very  small 
quantities),  and.  while  my  mouth  was  yet  open  to  receive  the  spoon, 
she  would  put  it  back  into  the  basin,  cry  "  Janet !  Donkies  ! "  and  go 
out  to  the  assault. 

The  bath  was  a  great  comfort.  For  I  began  to  bo  sensihJe  of 
acute  pains  in  my  limbs  from  lying  out  in  the  fields,  and  was  now 
80  tired  and  low  that  I  could  hardly  keep  myself  awake  for  five 
minutes  together.  Wheo  I  had  bathed,  they  (I  mean  my  aunt  and 
Janet)  enrobed  me  in  a  shirt  and  pair  of  trowsers  belonging  to  Mr 


238  DAVID    COPPEIIFIELD. 

Dick,  and  tied  me  up  in  two  or  three  great  shawls.  What  sort  of  a 
bundle  I  looked  like,  I  don't  know,  but  I  felt  a  very  hot  one.  Feel- 
ing also  very  faint  and  drowsy,  I  soon  lay  down  on  the  sofa  again 
and  fell  asleep. 

It  might  have  been  a  dream,  originating  in  the  fancy  which  had 
occupied  my  mind  so  long,  but  I  awoke  with  the  impression  that 
my  aunt  had  come  and  bent  over  me,  and  had  put  my  hair  away 
from  my  face,  and  laid  my  head  more  comfortably,  and  had  then 
stood  looking  at  me.  The  words,  "  Pretty  fellow,"  or,  "  Poor  fellow," 
seemed  to  be  in  ray  ears,  too ;  but  certainly  there  was  nothing  else, 
v/hen  I  awoke,  to  lead  me  to  beheve  that  they  had  been  uttered  by 
my  aunt,  who  sat  in  the  bow-window  gazing  at  the  sea  from  behind 
the  green  fan,  which  was  mounted  on  a  kind  of  swivel,  and  turned 
any  way. 

We  dined  soon  after  I  awoke,  off  a  roast  fowl  and  a  pudding ;  I  sit- 
ting at  table,  not  unhke  a  trussed  bird  myself,  and  moving  my  arms 
with  considerable  difficulty.  But  as  my  aunt  had  swathed  me  up, 
I  made  no  complaint  of  being  inconvenienced.  All  this  time,  I 
was  deeply  anxious  to  know  what  she  was  going  to  do  with  me ; 
but  she  took  her  dinner  in  profound  silence,  except  when  she  occa- 
sionally fixed  her  eyes  on  me  sitting  opposite,  and  said,  "Mercy 
upon  us  !"  which  did  not  by  any  means  relieve  my  anxiety. 

The  cloth  being  drawn,  and  some  sherry  put  upon  the  table,  (of 
which  I  had  a  glass,)  my  aunt  sent  up  for  Mr.  Dick  again,  who 
joined  us,  and  looked  as  wise  as  he  could  when  she  requested  him 
to  attend  to  my  story,  which  she  elicited  from  me,  gradually,  by  a 
course  of  questions.  During  my  recital,  she  kept  her  eyes  on  Mr. 
Dick,  who  I  thought  would  have  gone  to  sleep  but  for  that,  and 
who,  whensoever  he  lapsed  into  a  smile,  was  checked  by  a  frown 
from  my  aunt. 

"  AVhatever  possessed  that  poor  imfortunate  Baby,  that  she  must 
go  and  be  married  again,"  said  my  aunt,  when  I  had  finished,  "  / 
can't  conceive." 

"  Perhaps  she  fell  in  love  with  her  second  husband,"  Mr.  Dick 
suggested. 

"  Fell  in  love !"  repeated  my  aunt.  "  What  do  you  mean  ?  What 
business  had  she  to  do  it  ?" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  239 

"  Perhaps,"  Mr.  Dick  simpered,  after  thinking  a  little,  "  she  did  it 
for  pleasure." 

"  Pleasure,  indeed,"  replied  my  aunt.  "  A  mighty  pleasure  for 
the  poor  baby  to  fix  her  simple  faith  upon  any  dog  of  a  fellow,  cer- 
tain to  ill-use  her  in  some  way  or  other.  What  did  she  propose  to 
herself,  I  should  hke  to  know  !  She  had  had  one  husband.  She 
had  seen  DaWd  Copperfield  out  of  the  world,  who  was  always  run- 
ning after  wax  dolls  from  his  cradle.  She  had  got  a  baby — oh, 
tliere  were  a  pair  of  babies  when  she  gave  birth  to  this  child  sitting 
here,  that  Friday  night ! — and  what  more  did  she  want  ?" 

Mr.  Dick  secretly  shook  his  head  at  me,  as  if  he  thought  there 
was  no  getting  over  this. 

"  She  couldn't  even  have  a  baby  hke  anybody  else,"  said  my  aunt. 
"  Where  was  this  child's  sister,  Betsey  Trotwood.  Not  forthcoming. 
Don't  tell  me  ! " 

Mr.  Dick  seemed  quite  frightened. 

"  That  little  man  of  a  doctor,  with  his  head  on  one  side,"  said  my 
aunt,  "  Jellips,  or  whatever  his  name  was,  what  was  he  about  ?  All 
he  could  do,  was  to  say  to  me,  hke  a  robin-redbreast — as  he  is — 'It's 
a  boy.'     A  boy  !     Yah,  the  imbecility  of  the  whole  set  of  'em." 

The  heartiness  of  the  ejaculation  startled  Mr.  Dick  exceedingly  ; 
and  me,  too,  if  I  am  to  tell  the  truth. 

"  And  then,  as  if  this  was  not  enough,  and  she  had  not  stood 
sufficiently  in  the  hght  of  this  child's  sister,  Betsey  Trotwood,"  said 
my  aunt,  "  she  marries  a  second  time — goes  and  marries  a  Murderer 
— or  a  man  with  a  name  hke  it — and  stands  in  this  child's  light ! 
And  the  natural  consequence  is,  as  anybody  but  a  baby  might  have 
foreseen,  that  he  prowls  and  wanders.  He's  as  like  Cain  before  he 
was  grown  up,  as  he  can  be." 

Mr.  Dick  looked  hard  at  me,  as  if  to  identify  me  in  this  charactei 

"  And  then  there's  that  woman  with  the  Pagan  name,"  said  my 
aunt,  "  that  Peggotty,  site  goes  and  gets  married  next.  Because  she 
has  not  seen  enough  of  the  evil  attending  such  things,  she  goes  and 
gets  married  next,  as  the  child  relates.  I  only  hope,"  said  my  aunt, 
shaking  her  head,  "  that  her  husband  is  one  of  those  Poker  hus- 
bands, who  abound  in  the  newspapers,  and  ^\ill  beat  her  well  with 


240  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  could  not  bear  to  hear  my  old  nurse  so  decried,  and  made  the 
subject  of  such  a  wish.  I  told  my  aunt  that  indeed  she  was  mis- 
taken. That  Peggotty  was  the  best,  the  truest,  the  most  faithful, 
most  devoted,  and  most  self-denying  friend  and  servant  in  the  world ; 
who  had  ever  loved  me  dearly,  who  had  ever  loved  my  mother 
dearly ;  who  had  held  my  mother's  dying  head  upon  her  arm,  on 
whose  face  my  mother  had  imprinted  her  last  grateful  kiss.  And 
my  remembrance  of  them  both,  choking  me,  I  broke  down  as  I  was 
trying  to  say  that  her  home  was  my  home,  and  that  all  she  had  was 
mine,  and  that  I  would  have  gone  to  her  for  shelter,  but  for  her 
humble  station,  which  made  me  fear  that  I  might  bring  some  trouble 
on  her — I  broke  down,  I  say,  as  I  was  trying  to  say  so,  and  laid  my 
face  in  my  hands  upon  the  table. 

"  Well,  well !"  said  my  aunt,  "  the  child  is  right  to  stand  by  those  who 
have  stood  by  him — Janet !     Donkies  !" 

I  thoroughly  beUeve  that  but  for  those  unfortunate  donkies,  we  should 
have  come  to  a  good  understanding;  for  my  aunt  had  laid  her 
hand  on  my  shoulder,  and  the  impulse  was  upon  me,  thus  em- 
boldened, to  embrace  her  and  beseech  her  protection.  But  the 
interruption,  and  the  disorder  she  was  thrown  into  by  the  struggle 
outside,  put  an  end  to  all  softer  ideas  for  the  present ;  and  kept  my 
aunt  indignantly  declaiming  to  Mr.  Dick  about  her  determination  to 
appeal  for  redress  to  the  laws  of  her  country,  and  to  bring  actions 
for  trespass  against  the  whole  donkey  proprietorship  of  Dover,  until 
tea-time. 

After  tea,  we  sat  at  the  window — on  the  look-out,  as  I  imagined, 
from  my  aunt's  sharp  expression  of  face,  for  more  in^^aders — until 
dusk,  when  Janet  set  candles,  and  a  backgammon-board,  on  the 
table,  and  pulled  down  the  blinds. 

"  Now,  Mr.  Dick,"  said  my  aunt,  with  her  grave  look,  and  her 
fore-finger  up  as  before,  "  I  am  going  to  ask  you  another  question. 
Look  at  this  child." 

"  Da\ad's  son  ?"  said  Mr.  Dick,  with  an  attentive,  puzzled  face. 

"  Exactly  so,"  returned  my  aunt.  "  What  would  you  do  with 
hi  in,  now  ?" 

"  Do  with  David's  son  ?"  said  Mr.  Dick. 

"  Ay,"  rephed  my  aunt,  "  with  David's  son." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  241 

"  Oh !"  said  Mr.  Dick.  "  Yes.  Do  with— I  should  put  him  to 
bed." 

"Janet!"  cried  my  aunt  with  the  same  complacent  triumph  that 
I  had  remarked  before.  "  Mr.  Dick  sets  us  all  right.  If  the  bed  is 
ready,  we'll  take  him  up  to  it." 

Janet  reporting  it  to  be  quite  ready,  I  was  taken  up  to  it ;  kindly 
but  in  some  sort  hke  a  prisoner ;  my  aunt  going  in  front  and  Janet 
bnnging  up  the  rear.  The  only  circumstance  which  gave  me  any 
new  hope,  was  my  aunt's  stopping  on  the  stairs  to  inquire  about  a 
smell  of  fire  that  was  prevalent  there ;  and  Janet's  replying  that  she 
had  been  making  tinder  down  in  the  kitchen,  of  my  old  shirt.  But 
there  were  no  other  clothes  in  my  room  than  the  old  heap  of  things 
I  wore ;  and  when  I  was  left  there,  with  a  little  taper  which  my 
aunt  forewarned  me  would  bum  exactly  five  minutes,  I  heard  them 
lock  my  door  on  the  outside.  Turning  these  things  over  in  mv 
mind,  I  deemed  it  possible  that  my  aunt,  who  could  know  nothing 
of  me,  might  suspect  I  had  a  habit  of  running  away,  and  took  pre- 
cautions, on  that  account,  to  have  me  in  safe  keeping. 

The  room  was  a  pleasant  one,  at  the  top  of  the  house,  overlooking 
the  sea,  on  which  the  moon  was  shininor  brilliantly.  After  I  had 
said  my  prayers,  and  the  candle  had  burnt  out,  I  remember  how  I 
still  sat  looking  at  the  moonlight  on  the  water,  as  if  I  could  hope  to 
read  my  fortune  in  it,  as  in  a  bright  book ;  or  to  see  my  mother 
with  her  child,  coming  frcrtn  Heaven,  along  that  shining  path,  to 
look  upon  me  as  she  had  looked  when  I  last  saw  her  sweet  face.  I 
remember  how  the  solemn  feeling  with  which  at  length  I  turned 
my  eyes  away,  yielded  to  the  sensation  of  gratitude  and  rest  which 
the  sight  of  the  white-curtained  bed — and  how  much  more  the  lying 
softly  down  upon  it,  nestling  in  the  snow-white  sheets  ? — inspired. 
I  remember  how  I  thought  of  all  the  solitary  places  under  the  night 
sky  where  I  had  slept,  and  how  I  prayed  that  I  never  might  be 
houseless  any  more,  and  never  might  forget  the  houseless.  I  re- 
member how  I  seemed  to  float,  then,  down  the  melancl oly  glory 
of  that  track  upon  the  sea,  away  into  the  woild  of  dreams. 


15 


CHAPTER  XIV. 

MY  AUNT  MAKES  UP  HER  MIND  ABOUT  ME. 

On  going  down  in  the  morning,  I  found  my  aunt  musing  io  pro 
foundly  over  the  breaefast-table,  with  her  elbow  on  the  tray,  that  thej 
contents  of  the  urn  liad  overflowed  the  teapot  and  were  laying  the 
whole  table-cloth  under  water,  when  ray  entrance  put  her  medita- 
tions to  flight.  I  felt  sure  that  I  had  be^n  the  subject  of  her  reflec- 
tions, and  was  more  than  ever  anxious  to  know  her  intentions  towards 
me.  Yet  I  dared  not  express  my  anxiety,  lest  it  should  give  her 
ofience. 

My  eyes,  however,  not  being  so  much  under  control  as  my 
tongue,  were  attracted  towards  my  aunt  very  often  during  breakfast. 
I  never  could  look  at  her  for  a  few  moments  together  but  I  found 
her  looking  at  me — in  an  odd,  thoughtful  manner,  as  if  I  were  an 
immense  way  ofi",  instead  of  being  on  the  other  side  of  the  small 
round  table.  When  she  had  finished  her  breakfast,  my  aunt  very 
dehberately  leaned  back  in  her  chair,  knitted  her  brows,  folded  her 
arms,  and  contemplated  me  at  her  leisure,  with  such  a  fixedness  of 
attention  that  I  was  quite  overpowered  by  embarrassment.  Not 
ha\ing  as  yet  finished  my  own  breakfast,  I  attempted  to  hide  my 
confusion  by  proceeding  with  it ;  but  my  knife  tumbled  over  my 
fork,  my  fork  tripped  up  my  knife,  I  chipped  bits  of  bacon  a  surpris- 
ing height  into  tlie  air  instead  of  cutting  them  for  my  own  eating, 
and  choked  myself  with  my  tea  which  persisted  in  gouig  the  wrong 
way  instead  of  the  right  one,  until  I  gave  in  altogether,  and  sat 
blushing  under  my  aunt's  close  scrutiny. 

"  Hallo  !"  said  my  aunt,  after  a  long  time. 

I  looked  up,  and  met  her  sharp  bright  glance  respectfully. 

"  I  have  written  to  him,"  said  my  aunt. 

"To— r 

242 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  243  « 

"  To  your  father-in-law,"  said  my  aunt.  "  I  have  sent  him  a  lett-er 
that  I'll  trouble  him  to  attend  to,  or  he  and  I  will  fall  out,  I  can  tell 
him !" 

"  Does  he  know  where  I  am,  aunt  ?"  I  inquired,  alarmed. 

"  I  have  told  him,"  said  my  aunt,  with  a  nod. 

"  Shall  I — be — given  up  to  him  ?"  I  faltered. 

"  I  don't  know,"  said  my  aunt.     "  We  shall  see." 

"  Oh  !  I  can't  think  what  I  shall  do,"  I  exclaimed,  "  if  I  have  to 
go  back  to  Mr.  Murdstone  !" 

"  I  don't  know  anything  about  it,"  said  my  aunt,  shaking  her 
head.     "  I  can't  say,  I  am  sure.     We  shall  see." 

My  spirits  sank  under  these  words,  and  I  became  veiy  downcast 
and  heavy  of  heart.  My  aunt,  without  appearing  to  take  much 
heed  of  me,  put  on  a  coarse  apron  with  a  bib,  which  she  took  out  of 
the  press ;  washed  up  the  teacups  with  her  own  hands  ;  and,  when 
everything  was  washed  and  set  in  the  tray  again,  and  the  cloth 
folded  and  put  on  the  top  of  the  whole,  rang  for  Janet  to  remove  it. 
She  next  swept  up  the  crumbs  with  a  httle  broom  (putting  on  a 
pair  of  gloves  first),  until  there  did  not  appear  to  be  one  microscopic 
speck  left  on  the  carpet ;  next  dusted  and  arranged  the  room,  which 
was  dusted  and  arranged  to  a  hair's  breadth  already.  When  all 
these  tasks  were  performed  to  her  satisfaction,  she  took  off  the  gloves 
and  apron,  folded  them  up,  put  them  in  the  particular  corner  of  the 
press  from  which  they  had  been  taken,  brought  out  her  work-box  to 
her  own  table  in  the  open  window,  and  sat  down,  with  the  green 
fan  between  her  and  the  light,  to  work. 

"  I  wish  you'd  go  up  stairs,"  said  my  aunt,  as  she  threaded  her 
needle,  "  and  give  my  compliments  to  Mr.  Dick,  and  Til  be  glad  to 
know  how  he  gets  on  with  his  Memorial." 

I  rose  with  alacrity  to  acquit  myself  of  this  commission. 

"  I  suppose,"  said  my  aunt,  eyeing  me  as  narrowly  as  she  had 
eyed  the  needle  in  threading  it,  "  you  think  Mr.  Dick  a  short  name, 
eh  ?" 

"  I  thought  it  was  rather  a  short  name,  yesterday,"  I  confessed. 

"  You  are  not  to  suppose  that  he  hasn't  got  a  longer  name,  if  he 
chose  to  use  it,"  said  my  aunt,  with  a  loftier  air.  "  Babley — Mr 
Uichard  Babley — that's  the  gentleman's  true  name." 


244  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  was  going  to  suggest,  with  a  modest  sense  of  my  youth  and  the 
famiharity  I  had  been  ah'eady  guilty  of,  that  I  had  better  give  him 
the  full  benefit  of  that  name,  when  my  aunt  went  on  to  say : 

"  But  don't  you  call  him  by  it,  whatever  you  do.  He  can't  bear 
his  name.  That's  a  peculiarity  of  his.  Though  I  don't  know  that 
it's  much  of  a  peculiarity,  either ;  for  he  has  been  ill-used  enough 
by  some  that  bear  it,  to  have  a  mortal  antipathy  for  it,  Heaven 
knows.  Mr.  Dick  is  his  name  here,  and  everywhere  else,  now — if 
he  ever  went  anywhere  else,  which  he  don't.  So  take  care,  child, 
you  don't  call  him  anything  hut  Mr.  Dick." 

I  promised  to  obey,  and  went  up-stairs  ^vith  my  message  ;  think- 
ing, as  I  went,  that  if  Mr.  Dick  had  been  working  at  his  Memorial 
long,  at  the  same  rate  as  I  had  seen  hiiu  working  at  it,  through  the 
open  door,  when  I  came  dovrn,  he  wiis  probably  getting  on  very  well 
indeed.  I  found  him  still  driving  at  it  v\ith  a  long  pen,  and  his 
head  almost  laid  upon  the  paper.  He  was  so  intent  upon  it,  that  I 
had  ample  leisure  to  observe  the  large  paper  kite  in  the  corner,  the 
confusion  of  bundles  of  manuscript,  the  number  of  pens,  and,  above 
all,  the  quantity  of  ink  (which  he  seemed  to  have  in,  in  half-gallon 
jars  by  the  dozen),  before  he  observed  my  being  present. 

"  Ha  1  Phoebus  !"  said  Mr.  Dick,  laying  down  his  pen.  "  How 
does  the  world  go  !  I'll  tell  you  what,"  he  added,  in  a  lower  tone, 
"  I  shouldn't  wish  it  to  be  mentioned,  but  it's  a — "  here  he  beckoned 
to  me,  and  put  his  lips  close  to  my  ear — "  it's  a  mad  world.  Mad 
as  Bedlam,  boy  !"  said  Mr.  Dick,  taking  snuff  from  a  round  box  on 
the  table,  and  laughing  heartily. 

Without  presuming  to  give  my  opinion  on  this  question,  I  de- 
livered my  message. 

"  Well,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  in  answer,  "  my  compliments  to  her,  and 
I — I  behere  I  have  made  a  start.  I  think  I  have  made  a  start," 
said  Mr.  Dick,  passing  his  hand  among  his  grey  hair,  and  casting 
anything  but  a  confident  look  at  his  manuscript.  "  You  have  been 
to  school  ?" 

"  Yes,  sir,"  I  answered,  "  for  a  short  time." 

"  Do  you  recollect  the  date,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  looking  earnestly  at 
me,  and  taking  up  his  pen  to  note  it  down,  "  when  King  Charles  the 
First  had  his  head  cut  ofll" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  245 

I  said  I  believed  it  happened  in  the  year  sixteen  hundred  and 
forty-nine. 

"  Well,"  returned  Mr.  Dick,  scratching  his  ear  with  his  pen,  and 
looking  dubiously  at  me.  "  So  the  books  say,  but  I  don't  see  how 
that  can  be.  Because,  if  it  was  so  long  ago,  how  could  the  people 
about  him  have  made  that  mistake  of  putting  some  of  the  trouble 
out  of  his  head,  after  it  was  taken  off,  into  mine  .^" 

I  was  very  nuich  surprised  by  the  inquiry ;  but  could  give  no 
information  on  this  point. 

"  It 's  very  strange,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  with  a  despondent  look  upon 
his  papei's,  and  with  his  hand  among  his  hair  again,  "  that  I  never 
can  get  that  quite  right.  I  never  can  make  that  perfectly  clear. 
But  no  matter,  no  matter  !"  he  said  cheerfully,  and  rousing  himself, 
"  there's  time  enough.  My  compliments  to  Miss  Trotwood,  I  am 
getting  on  very  well  indeed." 

I  was  going  away,  when  he  directed  my  attention  to  the  kite. 

"  What  do  you  think  of  that  for  a  kite  ?"  he  said. 

I  answered  that  it  was  a  beautiful  one.  I  should  think  it  must 
have  been  as  much  as  seven  feet  hifjh. 

"  I  made  it.  We  '11  go  and  fly  it,  you  and  I,"  said  Mr.  Dick. 
"  Do  you  see  this  ?" 

He  showed  me  that  it  was  covered  with  manuscript,  very  closely 
and  laboriously  written ;  but  so  plainly,  that  as  I  looked  along  the 
hnes,  I  thought  I  saw  some  allusion  to  King  Charles  the  First's  head 
again,  in  one  or  two  places. 

"  There's  plenty  of  string,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  "  and  when  it  flies  high, 
it  takes  the  facts  a  long  way.  That's  my  manner  of  diffusing  'em. 
I  don't  know  where  they  may  come  down.  It's  according  to  circum- 
stances, and  the  wind,  and  so  forth ;  but  I  take  my  chance  of  that." 

His  face  was  so  very  mild  and  pleasant,  and  had  something  so 
reverend  in  it,  though  it  was  hale  and  hearty,  that  I  was  not  sure 
but  that  he  was  having  a  good  humoured  jest  wth  me.  So  I 
laughed,  and  he  laughed,  and  we  parted  the  best  friends  possible. 

"Well,  child,"  said  my  aunt,  when  I  went  dovvn  stairs.  "And 
what  of  Mr.  Dick,  this  morning  ?" 

I  informed  her  that  he  sent  his  comphments,  and  was  getting  on 
very  well  indeed. 


.240  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"Wtat  do  you  think  of  liim  ?"  said  my  aunt. 

I  had  some  shado"\vy  idea  of  endeavouring  to  evade  the  question, 
by  replying  that  I  thought  him  a  very  nice  gentleman ;  but  my  aunt 
was  not  to  be  so  put  off,  for  she  laid  her  work  down  in  her  lap,  and 
said,  folding  her  hands  upon  it : 

"  Come  !  Your  sister  Betsey  Trotwood  would  have  told  me  what 
she  thought  of  any  one,  directly.  Be  as  like  your  sister  as  you  can, 
and  speak  out !" 

"  Is  he — is  Mr.  Dick — I  ask  because  I  don't  know,  aunt — ^is  he  at 
all  out  of  his  mind,  then  ?"  I  stammered  ;  for  I  felt  I  was  on  dan- 
gerous ground. 

"  Xot  a  morsel,"  said  my  aunt. 

"  Oh,  indeed,"  I  observed  faintly. 

"  K  there  is  anything  in  the  world,"  said  my  aunt,  with  great 
decision  and  force  of  manner,  "  that  Mr.  Dick  is  not,  it's  that." 

I  had  nothing  better  to  offer,  than  another  timid  "  Oh,  indeed !" 

" He  has  been  called  mad,"  said  my  aunt.  "I  have  a  selfish 
pleasure  in  saying  he  has  been  called  mad,  or  I  should  not  have  had 
the  benefit  of  his  society  and  advice  for  these  last  ten  years  and  up- 
wards— in  fact,  ever  since  your  sister,  Betsey  Trotwood,  disappointed 
me." 

"Solon(r  as  that?"  I  said. 

"  And  nice  people  they  were,  who  had  the  audacity  to  call  him 
mad,"  pursued  my  aunt.  "  Mr.  Dick  is  a  sort  of  distant  connexion 
of  mine — it  doesn't  matter  how ;  I  needn't  enter  into  that.  If  it 
hadn't  been  for  me,  his  own  brother  would  have  shut  him  up  for 
hfe.     That's  all." 

I  am  afraid  it  was  hypocritical  in  me,  but  seeing  that  my  aunt 
felt  strongly  on  the  subject,  I  tried  to  look  as  if  I  felt  strongly 
too. 

"  A  proud  fool !  "  said  my  aunt.  "  Because  his  brother  was  a  lit- 
tle eccentric — though  he  is  not  half  so  eccentric  as  a  good  many 
people— he  didn't  like  to  have  him  visible  about  his  house,  and  sent 
him  away  to  some  private  asylum-place  ;  though  he  had  been  left  to 
his  particular  care  by  their  deceased  father,  who  thought  him  almost 
a  natural.  And  a  wise  man  he  must  have  been  to  th'nk  so  1  Mad 
himself  no  doubt." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  247 

Again,  as  my  aunt  looked  quite  convinced,  I  endeavored  to  look 
quite  convinced  also. 

"  So  I  stepped  in,"  said  my  aunt,  "  and  made  him  an  offer.  I 
Baid,  Your  brother's  sane — a  great  deal  more  sane  than  you  are,  or 
ever  will  be,  it  is  to  be- hoped.  Let  him  have  his  little  income,  and 
come  and  live  with  me.  /  am  not  afraid  of  him,  /  am  not  proud,  1 
am  ready  to  take  care  of  him,  and  shall  not  ill-treat  him  as  some 
people  (besides  the  asylum  folks)  have  done.  After  a  good  deal  of 
squabbhng,"  said  my  aunt,  "  I  got  him ;  and  he  has  been  here  ever 
since.  He  is  the  most  friendly  and  amenable  creature  in  existence  ; 
and  as  for  advice ! — but  nobody  knows  what  that  man's  mind  isj, 
except  myself." 

My  aunt  smoothed  her  dress  and  shook  her  head,  as  if  she 
smoothed  defiance  of  the  whole  world  out  of  the  one,  and  shook  it 
out  of  the  other. 

"  He  had  a  favorite  sister,"  said  my  aunt,  "  a  good  creature,  and 
rery  kind  to  him.  But  she  did  what^they  all  do — took  a  husband. 
And  he  did  what  they  all  do — made  her  wretched.  It  had  such  an 
tflfect  upon  the  mind  of  Mr.  Dick  {that^s  not  madness  I  hope  !)  that, 
■wmbined  with  his  fear  of  his  brother,  and  his  sense  of  his  unkind- 
ness,  it  threw  him  into  a  fever.  That  was  before  he  came  to  me, 
but  the  recollection  of  it  is  oppressive  to  him  even  now.  Did  he  say 
anything  to  you  about  King  Charles  the  Fu*st,  child  ?  " 

"  Yes,  aunt." 

"  Ah ! "  said  my  aunt,  rubbing  her  nose  as  if  she  were  a  little 
vexed.  "That's  his  allegorical  way  of  expressing  it.  He  connects 
his  illness  with  great  disturbance  and  agitation,  naturally,  and  that's 
the  figure,  or  the  simile,  or  whatever  it's  called,  which  he  chooses  to 
use.     And  why  shouldn't  he,  if  he  thinks  proper !" 

I  said :  "  Certainly,  aunt." 

"  It's  not  a  business-like  way  of  speaking,"  said  my  aunt,  "  nor  a 
woildly  way.  I  am  aware  of  that ;  and  that's  the  reason  why  I 
insist  upon  it,  that  there  shan't  be  a  word  about  it  in  his  Memorial." 

"  Is  it  a  Memorial  about  his  own  history  that  he  is  writing,  aunt?" 

"  Yes,  child,"  said  my  aunt,  rubbing  her  nose  again.  "  He  is  me- 
morializing the  Lord  Chancellor,  or  the  Lord  Somebody  or  other — 
one  of  those  people,  at  all  ♦events,  who  are  paid  to  he  memorialised— 


248  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

about  liis  affairs.  I  suppose  it  will  go  in,  one  of  these  days.  He 
hasn't  been  able  to  draw  it  up  yet,  without  introducing  that  mode 
of  expressing  himself ;  but  it  don't  signify  ;  it  keeps  him  employed." 

In  fact,  I  found  out  afterwards  that  Mr.  Dick  had  been  for  up- 
wards of  ten  years  endeavouring  to  keep  King  Charles  the  First  out 
of  the  Memorial ;  but  he  had  been  constantly  getting  into  it,  and 
was  there  now. 

"  I  say  again,"  said  my  aunt,  "  nobody  knows  what  that  man's 
mind  is  except  myself;  and  he's  the  most  amenable  and  friendly 
creature  in  existence.  If  he  likes  to  fly  a  kite  sometimes,  what  of 
that !  Franklin  used  to  fly  a  kite.  He  v/as  a  Quaker,  or  something 
of  that  sort,  if  I  am  not  mistaken.  And  a  Quaker  flying  a  kite  is  a 
much  more  ridiculous  object  than  any  body  else." 

If  I  could  have  supposed  that  my  aunt  had  recounted  these  par- 
ticulars for  my  especial  behoof,  and  as  a  piece  of  confidence  in  me,  I 
should  have  felt  very  much  distinguished,  and  should  have  augured 
fevourably  from  such  a  marl^  of  her  good  opinion.  But  I  could 
hardly  help  observing  that  she  had  launched  into  them,  chiefly  be- 
cause the  question  was  raised  in  her  own  mind,  and  with  ver)'^  little 
reference  to  me,  though  she  had  addressed  herself  to  me  in  the  ab- 
sence of  anybody  else. 

At  the  same  time,  I  must  say  that  the  generosity  of  her  cham- 
pionship of  poor  harmless  Mr.  Dick,  not  only  inspired  my  young 
breast  with  some  selfish  hope  for  myself,  but  warmed  it  unselfishly 
towards  her.  I  believe  I  began  to  know  that  there  was  something 
about  my  aunt,  notwithstanding  her  many  eccentricities  and  odd  hu- 
mours, to  be  honoured  and  trusted  in.  Though  she  was  just  as 
sharp  that  day,  as  on  the  day  before,  and  was  in  and  out  about  the 
donkeys  just  as  often,  and  was  thrown  into  a  tremendous  state  of 
indignation,  >when  a  young  man,  going  by,  ogled  Janet  at  a  window 
(which  was  one  of  the  gravest  misdemeanors  that  could  be  commit- 
ted against  my  aunt's  dignity),  she  seemed  to  me  to  command  more 
of  my  respect,  if  not  less  of  my  fear. 

The  anxiety  I  underwent,  in  the  interval  which  necessarily  elapsed 
before  a  reply  could  be  received  to  her  letter  to  Mr.  Murdstone,  was 
extreme ;  but  I  made  an  endeavour  to  suppress  it,  and  to  be  as  agree 
able  as  I  could  in  a  quiet  way,  both  to  my  aunt  and  Mr.  Dick.    The 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  249 

latter  and  I  would  have  gone  out  to  fly  tlie  great  kite  ;  but  that  I 
had  still  no  other  clothes  than  the  anything  but  ornamental  garments 
with  which  I  had  been  decorated  on  the  first  day,  and  which  confined 
me  to  tlie  house,  excej)t  for  an  hour  after  dark,  when  my  aunt,  for 
my  health's  sake,  paraded  me  up  and  down  on  the  cliff  outside,  be- 
fore going  to  bed.  At  length  the  reply  from  Mr.  Murdstone  came, 
and  my  aunt  informed  me,  to  my  infinite  terror,  that  he  was  coming 
to  speak  to  her  himself  on  the  next  day.  On  the  next  day,  still 
bundled  up  in  my  curious  habiliments,  I  sat  counting  the  time, 
flushed  and  heated  by  the  conflict  of  sinking  hopes  and  rising  fears 
within  me  ;  and  waiting  to  be  startled  by  the  sight  of  the  gloomy 
face,  whose  non-arrival  startled  me  every  minute. 

My  aunt  was  a  little  more  imperious  and  stern  than  usual,  but  I 
observed  no  other  token  of  her  preparing  herself  to  receive  the 
visitoi  so  much  dreaded  by  me.  She  sat  at  work  in  the  window, 
and  I  sat  by,  with  my  thoughts  running  astray  on  all  possible  and 
impossible  results  of  Mr.  Murdstone's  \isit,  until  pretty  late  in  the 
afternoon.  Our  dinner  had  been  indefinitely  postponed  ;  but  it  was 
growing  so  late,  that  my  aunt  had  ordered  it  to  be  got  ready,  when 
she  gave  a  sudden  alarm  of  donkeys,  and  to  my  consternation  and 
amazement,  I  beheld  Miss  Murdstone,  on  a  side-saddle,  ride  delibe- 
rately over  the  sacred  piece  of  green,  and  stop  in  front  of  the  house, 
looking  about  her. 

"  Go  along  ^\^th  you !"  cried  my  aunt,  shaking  her  head  and  her 
fist  at  the  window.  "  You  have  no  business  there.  How  dare  you 
tresj)ass  ?     Go  along  !     Oh,  you  bold-faced  thing  !" 

My  aunt  was  so  exasperated  by  the  coolness  with  which  Miss 
Murdstone  looked  about  her,  that  I  really  believe  she  was  motionless, 
and  unable  for  the  moment  to  dart  out  according  to  custom.  I 
seized  the  opportunity  to  inform  her  who  it  was  ;  and  that  tho 
gentleman  now  coming  near  the  offender  (for  the  way  up  was  very 
steep,  and  he  had  dropjied  behind),  was  Mr.  Murdstone  himself. 

"  I  don't  care  who  it  is  !"  cried  my  aunt,  still  shaking  her  head, 
and  gesticulatmg  anything  but  welc<jme  from  the  bow-window.  "  I 
won't  be  trespassed  upon.  I  won't  allow  it.  Go  away  !  Janet,  turn 
him  round.  Lead  him  off!"  and  I  saw,  from  F>ohind  my  aunt,  a 
sort  of  hurried   battle-piece,  in   which   the   donkey   stood  resisting 


250  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

everybody,  with  all  Lis  four  legs  planted  different  ways,  while  Janet 
tried  to  pull  him  round  by  the  bndle,  Mr.  Murdstone  tried  to  lead 
him  on,  Miss  Murdstone  struck  at  Janet  with  a  parasol,  and  several 
boys,  who  had  come  to  see  the  engagement,  shouted  vigorously. 
But  my  aunt,  suddenly  descrying  among  them  the  young  malefactoi 
who  was  the  donkey's  guardian,  and  who  was  one  of  the  most  inve- 
terate offenders  against  her,  though  hardly  in  his  teens,  rushed  out 
to  the  scene  of  action,  pounced  upon  him,  captured  him,  dragged 
him,  with  his  jacket  over  his  head,  and  his  heels  grinding  the  ground, 
into  the  garden,  and,  calling  upon  Janet  to  fetch  the  constables  and 
justices  that  he  might  be  taken,  tried,  and  executed  on  the  spot,  held 
him  at  bay  there.  This  part  of  the  business,  however,  did  not  last 
long ;  for  the  young  rascal,  being  expert  at  a  variety  of  feints  and 
dodges,  of  which  my  aunt  had  no  conception,  soon  went  whooping 
away,  leaving  some  deep  impressions  of  his  nailed  boots  in  the 
flower-beds,  and  taking  his  donkey  in  triumph  with  him. 

Miss  Murdstone,  during  the  latter  portion  of  the  contest,  had  dis- 
mounted, and  was  now  waiting  with  her  brother  at  the  bottom  of 
the  steps,  until  my  aunt  should  be  at  leisure  to  receive  them.  My 
aunt,  a  little  ruffled  by  the  combat,  marched  past  them  into  the 
house,  with  great  dignity,  and  took  no  notice  of  their  presence,  until 
'"hey  were  announced  by  Janet. 

"  Shall  I  go  away,  aunt  ?"  I  asked,  trembling. 

"  No,  sir,"  said  my  aunt.  "  Certainly  not !"  With  which  she 
pushed  me  into  a  corner  near  her,  and  fenced  me  in  with  a  chair, 
as  if  it  were  a  prison  or  a  bar  of  justice.  This  position  I  continued 
to  occupy  during  the  whole  interxdew,  and  from  it  I  now  saw  Mr. 
and  Miss  Murdstone  enter  the  room. 

"  Oh  !"  said  my  aunt,  "  I  was  not  aware  at  first  to  whom  I  had 
the  pleasure  of  objecting.  But  I  don't  allow  anybody  to  ride  over 
that  turf.  I  make  no  exceptions.  I  don't  allow  anybody  to  do 
it." 

"Your  regulation  is  rather  awkward  to  strangers,"  said  Miss 
Murdstone. 

"  Is  it !"  said  my  aunt. 

Mr.  Murdstone  seemed  afraid  of  a  renewal  of  hostilities,  and  inter- 
posing began : 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  251 

"  Miss  Trotwood !" 

"  I  beg  your   pardon,"  observed   my  aunt   with   a   keen   look. 
"  You  are  the  Mr.  Murdstone  who  married  the  widow  of  my  late 
nephew,  Da\id  Copperfield,  of  Blunderstone   Rookery  ? — Thought- 
why  Rookery,  /  don't  know  !" 

"  I  am,"  said  Mr,  Murdstone. 

"  You  '11  excuse  my  saying,  sir,"  returned  my  aunt,  "  that  I  think 
it  w^ould  have  been  a  much  better  and  happier  thing  if  you  had  left 
that  poor  child  alone." 

"  I  so  ftir  agree  with  what  Miss  Trotwood  has  remarked,"  observed 
Miss  Murdstone,  bridling,  "  that  I  consider  our  lamented  Clara  to 
have  been,  in  all  essential  respects,  a  mere  child." 

"  It  is  a  comfort  to  you  and  to  me,  ma'am,"  said  my  aunt, 
"  who  are  getting  on  in  life,  and  are  not  likely  to  be  made 
unhappy  by  our  personal  attractions,  that  nobody  can  say  the  same 
of  us." 

"  No  doubt !"  returned  Miss  Murdstone,  though,  I  thought,  not 
with  a  -very  ready  or  gTacious  assent.  "  And  it  certainly  might 
have  been,  as  you  say,  a  better  and  happier  thing  for  my  brother  if 
he  had  never  entered  into  such  a  marriage.  I  have  always  been  of 
that  opinion." 

"  I  have  no  doubt  you  have,"  said  my  aunt.  "  Janet,"  ringing 
the  bell,  "  my  compliments  to  Mr.  Dick,  and  beg  him  to  come 
down." 

Until  he  came,  my  aunt  sat  perfectly  upright  and  stiff,  frowning 
at  the  wall.  "V\Tien  he  came,  my  aunt  performed  the  ceremony  of 
introduction. 

"  Mr,  Dick.  An  old  and  intimate  friend.  On  whose  judg- 
ment," said  my  aunt,  with  emphasis,  as  an  admonition  to  ^Ir. 
Dick,  who  was  biting  his  forefinger  and  looking  rather  foolish, 
"  I  rely." 

Mr.  Dick  took  his  finger  out  of  his  mouth,  on  this  hint,  and 
stood  among  the  group,  with  a  grave  and  attentive  expression  of 
face.  My  aunt  inclined  her  head  to  Mr.  Murdstone,  who  went 
on : 

"  Miss  Trotwood :  on  the  receipt  of  your  letter,  I  considered  it  an 


252  DAVID    COPTERFIELD. 

act  of  ^eater  justice  to  myself,  and  perhaps  of  more  respect  to 
you — " 

"  Thank  you,"  said  my  aunt,  still  eyeing  him  keenly.     "  Yo\ 
needn't  mind  me." 

"  To  answer  it  in  person,  however  inconvenient  the  journey," 
pursued  Mr.  Murdstone,  "  rather  than  by  letter.  This  unhappy  boy 
who  has  run  away  fi-om  his  friends  and  his  occupation — " 

"  And  whose  appearance,"  interposed  his  sister,  directing  general 
attention  to  me  in  my  indefinable  costume,  "  is  perfectly  scandalous 
and  disgraceful." 

"  Jane  Murdstone,"  said  her  brother,  "  have  the  goodness  not  to 
interrupt  me.  This  unhappy  boy,  Miss  Trotwood,  has  been  the  oc- 
casion of  much  domestic  trouble  and  uneasiness ;  both  during  the 
hfetime  of  my  late  dear  wife,  and  since.  He  has  a  sullen,  rebelhous 
spirit ;  a  violent  temper  ;  and  an  untoward,  intractable  disposition. 
Both  my  sister  and  myself  have  endeavoured  to  correct  his  vices, 
but  ineffectually.  And  I  have  felt — we  both  have  felt,  I  may  say ; 
my  sister  being  fully  in  my  confidence — that  it  is  right  you 
should  receive  this  grave  and  dispassionate  assurance  from  our 
hps." 

"  It  can  hardly  be  necessary  for  me  to  confirm  anything  stated  by 
my  brother,"  said  Mks  ISIurdstone  ;  "  but  I  beg  to  observe  that,  of  all 
the  boys  in  the  world,  I  believe  this  is  the  worst  boy." 

"  Strong ! "  said  my  aunt,  shortly. 

"  But  not  at  all  too  strong  for  the  facts,"  returned  Miss  Murd- 
stone. 

"  Ha !  "  said  my  aunt.     "  Well,  sir  ?  " 

"  I  have  my  own  opmions,"  resumed  Mr.  Murdstone,  whose  face 
darkened  more  and  more,  the  more  he  and  my  aunt  observed  each 
other,  which  they  did  very  narrowly,  "  as  to  the  best  mode  of  bring- 
ing him  up  ;  they  are  founded,  in  part,  on  my  knowledge  of  him,  and 
in  part  on  my  knowledge  of  my  own  means  and  resources.  I  am 
responsible  for  them  to  myself  I  act  upon  them,  and  I  say  no  more 
about  them.  It  is  enough  that  I  place  this  boy  under  the  eye  of  a 
friend  of  my  own,  in  a  respectable  business  ;  that  it  does  not  please 
him ;  that  he  runs  away  fi'om  it ;  makes  himself  a  common  vagabouQ 


The  Momentous  lutervicw. 


^  DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  253 

about  the  country  ;  and  comes  here,  in  rags,  to  appeal  to  j^ou,  Misa 
Trotwood.  I  wish  to  set  before  you,  honorably,  the  exact  conse- 
quences—so  far  as  they  are  within  my  knowledge — <)f  your  abetting 
him  in  this  appeal." 

"  But  about  the  respectable  business  first,"  said  my  aunt.  "  If  he 
had  been  your  own  boy,  you  would  have  put  him  to  it,  jast  the  same, 
I  suppose  ? " 

"  If  he  had  been  my  brother's  own  boy,"  returned  Miss  Murdstone, 
striking  in,  "  his  character,  I  trust,  would  have  been  altogether  dif- 
ferent" 

"  Or  if  the  poor  child,  his  mother,  had  been  alive,  he  would 
still  have  gone  into  the  respectable  business,  would  he  ?  "  said  my 
aunt. 

"  I  believe,"  said  Mr.  Murdstone,  with  an  inclination  of  his  head, 
"  that  Clara  would  have  disputed  nothing,  which  myself  and  my 
sister  Jane  Murdstone  were  agreed  was  for  the  best." 

Miss  Murdstone  confirmed  this,  vnih  an  audible  murmur. 

"  Umph  ! "  said  my  aunt.     "  Unfortunate  baby ! " 

Mr.  Dick,  who  had  been  rattling  his  money  all  this  time,  was 
rattling  it  so  loudly  now,  that  my  aunt  felt  it  necessary  to  check  him 
with  a  look,  before  sapng  : 

"  The  poor  child's  annuity  died  with  her  ? " 

"  Died  ^vith  her,"  replied  Mr.  Murdstone. 

"  And  there  was  no  settlement  of  the  httle  property — the  house  and 
garden — the  what's-its-name  Rookery  without  any  rooks  in  it — upon 
her  boy." 

"  It  had  been  left;  to  her,  unconditionally,  by  her  first  husband," 
Mr.  Murdstone  began,  when  my  aunt  caught  him  up  with  the  great- 
est irascibility  and  impatience. 

"  Good  Lord,  man,  there's  no  occasion  to  say  that.  Left  to  her 
unconditionally  !  I  think  I  see  Dand  Copperfield  looking  forward  to 
any  condition  of  any  sort  or  kind,  though  it  stared  him  point-blank 
in  the  ftice  !  Of  course  it  was  left  to  her  unconditionally.  But  when 
she  married  again — when  she  took  that  most  disastrous  step  of  mar- 
rying you,  in  short,"  said  ray  aunt,  "  to  be  plain — did  no  one  put  in 
a  word  for  the  boy  at  that  time  ? " 


254  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  My  late  wife  loved  her  second  husband,  madam,"  said  Mr. 
Murdstoue,  "  and  trusted  implicitly  in  him." 

"  Your  late  wife,  sir,  was  a  most  unworldly,  most  unhappy,  most 
unfortunate  baby,"  returned  my  aunt,  shaking  her  head  at  him. 
"  That's  what  sh£  was.  And  now,  what  have  you  got  to  say 
next  ? " 

"  Merely  this.  Miss  Trotwood,"  he  returned.  "  I  am  here  to  take 
Da^id  back — to  take  him  back  unconditionally,  to  dispose  of  him  as 
I  think  proper,  and  to  deal  with  him  as  I  think  right.  I  am  not 
here  to  make  any  promise,  or  give  any  pledge  to  anybody.  You 
may  possibly  have  some  idea,  Miss  Trotwood,  of  abetting  him  in  his 
running  away,  and  in  his  complaints  to  you.  Your  manner,  which 
I  must  say  does  not  seem  intended  to  propitiate,  induces  me  to  tliink 
it  possible.  Now  I  must  caution  you  that  if  you  abet  him  once, 
you  abet  him  for  good  and  all ;  if  you  step  in  between  him  and  me 
now,  you  must  step  in.  Miss  Trotwood,  for  ever.  I  cannot  trifle,  or 
be  trifled  with.  I  am  here,  for  the  first  and  last  time,  to  take  him 
away.  Is  he  ready  to  go  ?  If  he  is  not — and  you  tell  me  he  is 
not ;  on  any  pretence  ;  it  is  indiflferent  to  me  what — my  doors  are 
shut  against  him  henceforth,  and  yours,  I  take  it  for  granted,  are 
open  to  him." 

To  this  address,  my  aunt  had  hstened  with  the  closest  attention, 
sitting  perfectly  u^^right,  with  her  hands  folded  on  one  knee,  and 
looking  grimly  on  the  speaker.  When  he  had  finished,  she  turned 
her  eyes  so  as  to  command  Miss  Murdstone,  without  otherwise 
disturbing  her  attitude,  and  said  : 

"  Well,  ma'am,  have  you  got  anything  to  remark  ? " 

''  Indeed,  ^liss  Trotwood,"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  "  all  that  I  could 
say  has  been  so  well  said  by  my  brother,  and  all  that  I  know  to  be 
the  fact  has  been  so  plainly  stated  by  him,  that  I  have  nothing  to 
add  except  my  thanks  for  your  politeness.  For  your  very  great 
pohteness,  I  am  sure,"  said  Miss  Murdstone  ;  with  an  irony  which 
no  more  afiected  my  aunt,  than  it  discomjDosed  the  cannon  I  had 
sbpt  by  at  Chatham. 

"  And  what  does  the  boy  say  ? "  said  my  aunt.  "  Are  you  ready 
tc  go,  David  ? " 


DAVID    COrPERFIELD.  255 

I  answered  no,  and  entreated  her  not  to  let  me  go.  I  said  tliat 
neither  Mi*,  nor  Miss  Murdstone  had  ever  liked  me,  or  had  ever  been 
kind  to  me.  That  they  had  made  ray  mama,  who  always  loved  me 
dearly,  unhappy  about  me,  and  that  I  knew  it  well,  and  that  Peg- 
gotty  knew  it.  I  said  that  I  had  been  more  miserable  than  I 
thought  anybody  could  beheve,  who  only  knew  how  young  I  was. 
And  I  begged  and  prayed  my  aunt — I  forget  in  what  terms  now, 
but  I  remember  that  they  affected  me  very  much  then — to  befiiend 
and  protect  me,  for  my  father's  sake. 

"  Mr.  Dick,"  said  my  aunt,  "  what  shall  I  do  with  this  child  ? " 

Mr.  Dick  considered,  hesitated,  brightened,  and  rejoined,  "  Have 
him  measured  for  a  suit  of  clothes  directly." 

"  Mr.  Dick,"  said  my  aunt,  triumphantly,  "  give  me  your  hand, 
for  your  common  sense  is  invaluable."  Having  shaken  it  with  great 
cordiality,  she  pulled  me  towards  her,  and  said  to  Mr,  Murdstone : 

"  You  can  go  when  you  like  ;  I'll  take  my  chance  with  the  boy. 
If  he's  all  you  say  he  is,  at  lea«it  I  can  do  as  much  for  him  then,  as 
you  have  done.     But  I  don't  believe  a  word  of  it." 

"  Miss  Trotwood,"  rejoined  Mr.  Murdstone,  shrugging  his  shoul- 
ders, as  he  rose,  "  if  you  were  a  gentleman " 

"  Bah  !  stuff  and  nonsense  ! "  said  my  aunt.  "  Don't  talk  to 
me!" 

"  How  exquisitely  polite ! "  exclaimed  Miss  Murdstone,  rising. 
•*  Overpowering,  really  ! " 

"  Do  you  think  I  don't  know,"  said  my  aunt,  turning  a  deaf  ear 
to  the  sister,  and  continuing  to  address  the  brother,  and  to 
shake  her  head  at  him  with  infinite  expression,  "  what  kind  of  hfe 
you  must  have  led  that  poor,  unhappy,  misdirected  baby  ?  Do  you 
think  I  don't  know  what  a  woful  day  it  was  for  the  soft  little 
creature,  when  you  fii-st  came  in  her  way — smirking  and  making 
great  eyes  at  her,  I  '11  be  bound,  as  if  you  couldn't  say  boh  !  to  a 
goose ! " 

"  I  never  heard  anything  so  elegant ! "  said  Miss  Murdstone. 

"  Do  you  think  I  can't  understand  you  as  well  as  if  I  had  seen 
you,"  pursued  my  aunt,  "  now  that  I  do  see  and  hear  you — which, 
I  tell  you  candidly,  Ls  anything  but  a  pleasure  '!o  me?  Oh  yes, 
bless  us !  who  so  smooth  and  silky  as  Mr.  Murdstone  at  first !     The 


256  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

poor,  benighted  innocent  had  never  seei  ,  such  a  man.  He  was 
made  of  sweetness.  He  worshipped  her.  He  doted  on  her  boy — ■ 
tenderly  doted  on  him  !  He  was  to  be  another  father  to  him,  and 
they  were  all  to  live  together  in  a  garden  of  roses,  weren't  they ! 
Ugh  !  Get  along  with  you,  do  ! "  said  my  aunt. 

"  I  never  heard  anything  like  this  person  in  my  life  ! "  exclaimed 
Miss  Murdstone. 

"  And  when  you  had  made  sure  of  the  poor  little  fool,"  said  my 
aunt — "  God  forgive  me  that  I  should  call  her  so,  and  she  gone 
where  you  won't  go  in  a  hurry — because  you  had  not  done  wrong 
enough  to  her  and  hers,  you  must  begin  to  train  her,  must  you  ? 
begin  to  break  her,  like  a  poor  caged  bird,  and  wear  her  deluded 
hfe  away,  in  teaching  her  to  sing  your  notes  ? " 

"  This  is  either  insanity  or  intoxication,"  said  Miss  Murdstone,  ir 
a  perfect  agony  at  not  being  able  to  turn  the  current  of  my  aunf  s 
address  towards  hereelf ;  "  and  my  suspicion  is,  that  it  's  intoxi- 
cation." 

Miss  Betsey,  without  taking  the  least  notice  of  the  interruption, 
continued  to  address  herself  to  Mr.  Murdstone  as  if  there  had  been 
no  such  thill q;. 

"  Mr.  Murdstone,"  she  said,  shaking  her  finger  at  him,  "  you  were 
a  tyrant  to  the  simple  baby,  and  you  broke  her  heart.  She  was  a 
Io\ing  baby — I  know  that ;  I  knew  it,  years  before  you  ever  saw 
her — and  through  the  best  pai't  of  her  weakness,  you  gave  her  the 
wounds  she  died  of  There  is  the  truth  for  your  comfort,  however 
vou  like  it.  And  you  and  your  instruments  may  make  the  most 
of  it." 

"Allow  me  to  inquire.  Miss  Trotwood,"  interposed  Miss  Murd- 
stone, "  whom  you  are  pleased  to  call,  in  a  choice  of  words  in  which 
I  am  not  experienced,  my  brother's  instruments  ? " 

Still  stone-deaf  to  the  voice,  and  utterly  unmoved  by  it,  Miss 
Betsey  pursued  her  course. 

"  It  was  clear  enough,  as  I  have  told  you,  yea/s  before  you  ever 
•aw  her — and  why,  in  the  mysterious  dispensations  of  Providence, 
vou  ever  did  see  her,  is  more  than  humanity  can  comprehend — it 
was  clear  enough  that  the  poor  soft  Jittle  thing  would  marry  some- 
body, at  some  time  or  other ;  but  I  did  hope  it  wouldn't  have  been 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  257 

aa  bad  aa  it  has  turned  out.  That  was  the  time,  Mr.  Murdstone, 
when  she  gave  birth  to  her  boy  here,"  said  my  aunt ;  "  to  the  poor 
child  you  sometimes  tormented  her  through  afterwards,  which  is  a 
disagreeable  remembrance,  and  makes  the  sight  of  him  odious  now. 
Ay,  ay !  you  needn't  wince  ! "  said  my  aunt,  "  I  know  it 's  true 
without  that." 

He  had  stood  by  the  door,  all  this  while,  observant  of  her  with  a 
smile  upon  his  face,  though  his  black  eyebrows  were  heavily  con- 
tracted. I  remarked  now,  that,  though  the  smile  was  on  his  face 
still,  his  colour  had  gone  in  a  moment,  and  he  seemed  to  breathe  as 
if  he  had  been  runnino:. 

"  Good  day,  sir  ! "  said  my  aunt,  "  and  good  bye  !  Good  day  to 
you  too,  ma'am,"  said  my  aunt,  turning  suddenly  upon  his  sister. 
"  Let  me  see  you  ride  a  donkey  over  my  green  again,  and  as  sure  as 
you  have  a  head  upon  your  shoulders,  I'll  knock  your  bonnet  off, 
and  tread  upon  it  ! " 

It  would  require  a  painter,  and  no  common  painter  too,  to  depict 
my  aunt's  face  as  she  delivered  hei^self  of  this  very  unexpected  senti- 
ment, and  Miss  Murdstone's  face  as  she  heard  it.  But  the  manner  ot 
the  speech,  no  less  than  the  matter,  was  so  fiery,  that  Miss  Murdstone, 
without  a  word  in  answer,  discreetly  put  her  arm  through  her  bro- 
ther's, and  walked  haughtily  out  of  the  cottage  ;  my  aunt  remaining 
in  the  window  looking  after  them ;  pre})ared,  I  have  no  doubt,  in 
case  of  the  donkey's  reapi^earance,  to  carry  her  threat  into  instant 
execution. 

No  attemjjt  at  defiance  being  made,  however,  her  face  gradually 
relaxed,  and  became  so  pleasant,  that  I  was  emboldened  to  kiss  and 
thank  her ;  which  I  did  with  great  heartiness,  and  with  both  my 
arms  clasped  round  lier  neck.  I  then  shook  hands  with  Mr.  Dick, 
who  shook  hands  with  me  a  great  many  times,  and  hailed  this 
happy  close  of  the  proceedings  with  repeated  bursts  of  laughter. 

"  You'll  consider  yourself  guardian,  jointly  with  me,  of  this  child, 
Mr.  Dick,"  said  my  aunt. 

"  I  shall  be  delighted,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  "  to  be  the  guardian  ot 
David's  son." 

"  Very  good,"  returned  my  aunt,  "  thafs  settled.  I  have  been 
thinking,  do  you  know,  Mr.  Dick,  that  I  might  call  him  Trotwood  2** 

16 


258  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Certainly,  certainly.     Call  him  Trotwood,  certainly ,"  said  Mi 
Dick.     "  David's  son's  Trotwood." 

"  Trotwood  Coppei-field,  you  mean,"  returned  my  aunt. 

"  Yes,  to  be  sure.  Yes.  Trotwood  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Dick, 
a  little  abashed. 

My  aunt  took  so  kindly  to  the  notion,  that  some  ready-made 
clothes,  which  were  purchased  for  me  that  afternoon,  were  marked 
*'  Trotwood  Copperfield,"  in  her  own  handwriting,  and  in  indelible 
marking-ink,  before  I  put  them  on ;  and  it  was  settled  that  all  the 
other  clothes  which  were  ordered  to  be  made  for  me  (a  complete 
outfit  was  bespoke  that  afternoon)  should  be  marked  in  the 
same  way. 

Thus  I  began  my  new  life,  in  a  new  name,  and  with  every  thing 
new  about  me.  Now  that  the  state  of  doubt  was  over  I  felt,  for 
many  days,  like  one  in  a  dream.  I  never  thought  that  I  had  a 
curious  couple  of  guardians,  in  my  aunt  and  Mr.  Dick.  I  never 
thought  of  anything  about  myself,  distinctly.  The  two  things  clear- 
est in  my  mind  were,  that  a  remoteness  had  come  upon  the  old 
Blunderstone  life — which  seemed  to  lie  in  a  haze  of  an  immeasura- 
ble distance ;  and  that  a  curtain  had  for  ever  fallen  on  my  life  at 
Murdstone  and  Grinby's.  No  one  has  ever  raised  that  cm-tain  since. 
I  have  hfted  it  for  a  moment,  even  in  this  narrative,  with  a  reluctant 
hand,  and  dropped  it  gladly.  The  remembrance  of  that  life  is 
fraught  with  so  much  pain  to  me,  with  so  much  mental  sufiering 
and  want  of  hope,  that  I  have  never  had  the  courage  even  to  ex- 
amine how  long  I  was  doomed  to  lead  it.  Whether  it  lasted  for  a 
year,  or  more,  or  less,  I  do  not  know.  I  only  know  that  it  was,  and 
ceased  to  be  ;  and  that  I  have  wi-itten,  and  there  I  leave  it. 


CHAPTER  XV. 


I    MAKE    ANOTHER    BEGINNING. 


Mr.  Dick  and  I  soon  became  the  best  of  friends,  and  very  often, 
when  his  day's  work  was  done,  went  out  together  to  fly  the  great 
kite.  Every  day  of  his  hfe  he  had  a  long  sitting  at  the  Memorial, 
which  never  made  the  least  progress,  however  hard  he  labored,  for 
King  Charles  the  First  always  strayed  into  it,  sooner  or  later,  and 
then  it  was  thrown  aside,  and  another  one  begun.  The  patience 
and  hope  with  which  he  bore  these  perpetual  disappointments,  the 
mild  perception  he  had  that  there  was  something  wrong  about  King 
Charles  the  First,  the  feeble  eflforts  he  made  to  keep  him  out,  and 
the  certainty  with  which  he  came  in,  and  tumbled  the  Memorial 
out  of  all  shape,  made  a  deep  impression  on  me.  What  Mr.  Dick 
supposed  would  come  of  the  Memorial,  if  it  were  completed ;  where 
he  thought  it  was  to  go,  or  what  he  thought  it  was  to  do ;  he  knew 
no  more  than  anybody  else,  I  believe.  Nor  was  it  at  all  necessary 
that  he  should  trouble  himself  with  such  questions,  for  if  anything 
were  certain  under  the  sun,  it  was  certain  that  the  Memorial  never 
would  be  finished. 

It  was  quite  an  aflecting  sight,  I  used  to  tliink,  to  see  him  with 
the  kite  when  it  was  up  a  great  height  in  the  air.  What  he  had 
told  me,  in  his  room,  about  his  belief  in  its  disseminating  the  state- 
ments pasted  on  it,  which  were  nothing  but  old  leaves  of  abortive 
Memorials,  might  have  been  a  fancy  with  him  sometimes;  but  not 
when  he  was  out,  looking  up  at  the  kite  in  the  sky,  and  feeling  it 
pull  and  tug  at  his  hand.  He  never  looked  so  serene  as  he  did 
then.  I  used  to  fancy,  as  I  sat  by  him  of  an  evening  on  a  green 
slope,  and  saw  him  watch  the  kite  high  in  the  quiet  air,  that  it 
hfted  his  mind  out  of  its  confusion^  and  bore  it  (such  was  my  boy- 
ish thought)  into   the  skies.     As  he  wound  the  string  in,  and  it 

269 


260  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

came  lower  and  lower  down  out  of  the  beautiful  light,  until  it  flut 
lered  to  tlie  ground  and  lay  tliere  like  a  dead  thing,  he  seemed  tc 
wake  gradu<illy  out  of  a  dream ;  and  I  remember  to  have  seen  him 
take  it  up,  and  look  about  him  in  a  lost  way,  as  if  they  had  both 
come  down  together,  so  that  I  pitied  him  \vith  all  my  heart. 

While  I  advanced  in  fnendship  and  intimacy  with  Mr.  Dick,  I 
did  not  go  backward  in  the  favor  of  his  staunch  fi-iend,  my  aunt.  She 
took  so  kindly  to  me,  that,  in  the  course  of  a  few  weeks,  she  short- 
ened my  adopted  name  of  Trotw^ood  into  Trot ;  and  even  encouraged 
me  to  hope  that  if  I  went  on  as  I  had  begun,  I  might  take  equal 
rank  in  her  affections  with  my  sister  Betsey  Trotwood. 

"  Trot,"  said  my  aunt  one  evening,  when  the  backgammon-board 
was  placed  as  usual  for  herself  and  Mr.  Dick,  "  we  must  not  forget 
your  education." 

This  was  my  only  subject  of  anxiety,  and  I  felt  quite  dehghted  by 
her  referring  to  it. 

"  Should  you  like  to  go  to  school  at  Canterbury  ?"  said  my  aunt. 

I  replied  that  I  should  like  it  very  much,  as  it  was  so  near  her. 

"  Good,"  said  my  aunt.     "  Should  you  like  to  go  to-morrow  ?" 

Being  already  no  stranger  to  the  general  rapidity  of  my  aunt's 
evolutions,  I  was  not  surprised  by  the  suddenness  of  the  proposal, 
and  said  :     "  Yes." 

"  Good,"  said  my  aunt  again.  "  Janet,  hire  the  grey  pony  and 
chaise  to-morrow  morning  at  ten  o'clock,  and  pack  up  Master  Trot- 
wood's  clothes  to-night." 

I  was  gi'eatly  elated  by  these  orders ;  but  my  heart  smote  me  for 
my  selfishness,  when  I  witnessed  their  effect  on  Mr.  Dick,  who  was 
so  low-spirited  at  the  prospect  of  our  separation,  and  played  so  ill  in 
consequence,  that  my  aunt,  after  gi^^ng  him  several  admonitory  raps 
on  the  knuckles  with  her  dice-box,  shut  up  the  board,  and  declined 
to  play  with  him  any  more.  But,  on  hearing  fi-om  my  aunt  that  I 
should  sometimes  come  over  on  a  Saturday,  and  that  he  could  some- 
times come  and  see  me  on  a  Wednesday,  he  revived  ;  and  vowed  to 
make  another  kite  for  those  occasions,  of  proportions  greatly  siu*- 
passing  the  present  one.  In  the  morning  he  was  downhearted 
again,  and  would  have  sustained  himself  by  giving  me  all  the  money 
he  had  in  his  possession,  gold  and  silver  too,  if  my  aunt  had  not 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  201 

mteq)osed,  and  limited  the  gift  to  five  shillings,  which,  at  his  eanntst 
petition,  were  afterwards  increased  to  ten.  We  parted  at  tlie 
garden-gate  in  a  most  affectionate  manner,  and  ISIr.  Dick  did  not  go 
into  the  house  until  my  aunt  had  driven  me  out  of  sight  of  it. 

My  aunt,  who  was  perfectly  indifferent  to  pubhc  opinion,  drove 
the  grey  pony  through  Dover  in  a  masterly  manner ;  sitting  high 
and  stiff'  like  a  state  coachman,  keeping  a  steady  eye  upon  him 
wherever  he  went,  and  making  a  point  of  not  letting  him  have  his 
own  way  in  any  respect.  When  we  came  into  the  country  road, 
she  pemiitted  him  to  relax  a  little,  however ;  and  looking  at  me 
down  in  a  valley  of  cushion  by  her  side,  asked  me  whether  I  wiia 
happy. 

"  Very  happy  indeed,  thank  you,  aunt,"  I  said. 

She  was  much  gratified;  and  both  her  hands  being  occupied, 
patted  me  on  the  head  with  her  whip. 

"  Is  it  a  large  school,  aunt  ?"  I  asked.  x 

"  Why,  I  don't  know,"  said  my  aunt.  "  We  are  going  to  Mr. 
Wickfield's  first." 

"  Does  he  keep  a  school  ?"  I  asked. 

"  No,  Trot,"  said  my  aunt.     "  He  keeps  an  office." 

I  asked  for  no  more  information  about  Mr.  Wickfield,  as  she 
offered  none,  and  we  conversed  on  other  subjects  until  we  came  to 
Canterbuiy,  where,  as  it  was  market-day,  my  aunt  had  a  gTeat 
opportunity  of  insinuating  the  grey  pony  among  carts,  baskets, 
vegetables,  and  hucksters'  goods.  The  hair-breadth  turns  and  twists 
we  made,  drew  down  upon  us  a  variety  of  speeches  from  the  people 
standing  about,  which  were  not  always  comphmentaiy ;  but  my 
aunt  drove  on  with  perfect  indifference,  and  I  dare  say  would  have 
taken  her  own  way  with  as  much  coolness  tlirough  an  enemy's 
country. 

At  length  we  stopped  before  a  very  old  house  bulging  out  over 
the  road  ;  a  house  with  long  low  lattice-windows  bulging  out  still 
farther,  and  beams  with  carved  heads  on  the  ends  bulging  out  too, 
so  that  I  fancied  the  whole  house  was  leaning  forward,  trying  to  see 
who  was  passing  on  the  narrow  pavement  below.  It  was  quite 
spotless  in  its  cleanliness.  The  old-fashioned  brass  knocker  on  the 
low  arched  door,  ornamented  with  carved  garlands  of  fruit  and 
fiowers,  twinkled  like  a  star ;  the  two  stx^ne  steps  descending  to  the 


262  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

door  were  as  white  as  if  they  liad  been  covered  with  fair  linen  ;  and 
all  the  angles  and  corners,  and  carvings  and  mouldirgs,  and  quaint 
little  panes  of  glass,  and  quainter  little  windows,  though  as  old  as 
the  hills,  were  as  pure  as  any  snow  that  ever  fell  upon  the  hills. 

Wlien  the  pony-chaise  stopped  at  the  door,  and  my  eyes  were 
intent  upon  the  house,  I  saw  a  cadaverous  face  appear  at  a  small 
window  on  the  ground  floor  (in  a  httle  round  tower  that  formed  one 
side  of  the  house),  and  quickly  disappear.  The  low  arched  door 
then  opened,  and  the  face  came  out.  It  was  quite  as  cadaverous  as 
it  had  looked  in  the  window,  though  in  the  gi-ain  of  it  there  was 
that  tinge  of  red  which  is  sometimes  to  be  observed  in  the  skins  of 
red-haired  people.  It  belonged  to  a  red-haired  person — a  youth 
of  fifteen,  as  I  take  it  now,  but  looking  much  older->-whose  hah  was 
cropped  as  close  as  the  closest  stubble ;  who  had  hardly  any 
eyebrows,  and  no  eyelashes,  and  eyes  of  a  red-brown  ;  so  unshel- 
tered and  unshaded,  that  I  remember  wondering  how  he  went  to 
sleep.  He  was  high-shouldered  and  bony ;  dressed  in  decent  black, 
with  a  white  wisp  of  a  neckcloth  ;  buttoned  up  to  the  thi'oat ;  and 
had  a  long,  lank,  skeleton  hand,  which  particularly  attracted  my 
attention,  as  he  stood  at  the  pony's  head,  rubbing  his  chin  with  it, 
and  looking  up  at  us  in  the  chaise. 

"Is  ^Ir.  Wickfield  at  home,  Uriah  Heep?"  said  my  aunt. 

"  Mr.  Wickfield's  at  home,  ma'am,"  said  Uriah  Heep,  "  if  you'll 
please  to  walk  in  there" — j^ointing  with  his  long  hand  to  the  room 
he  meant. 

We  got  out ;  and  leaving  him  to  hold  the  pony,  went  into  a  long 
low  parlor  looking  towards  the  street,  from  the  window  of  which  I 
caught  a  glimpse,  as  I  went  in,  of  Uriah  Heep  breathing  into  the 
pony's  nostrils,  and  immediately  covering  them  with  his  hand,  as  if 
he  were  putting  some  spell  upon  him.  Opposite  to  the  tall  old 
chimney-piece,  were  two  portraits :  one  of  a  gentleman  with  grey 
hair  (though  not  by  any  means  an  old  man)  and  black  eyebrows, 
who  was  looking  over  some  papei-s  tied  together  with  red  tape ;  the 
other,  of  a  lady,  with  a  very  placid  and  sweet  expression  of  face, 
who  was  looking  at  me. 

I  believe  I  was  turning  about  in  search  of  Uriah's  picture,  when, 
a  door  at  the  farther  end  of  the  room  opening,  a  gentleman  entered, 
at   sight  of  whom  I  turned  to  the  first-mejntioned  portrait  again, 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  263 

to  make  quite  sure  that  it  had  not  come  out  of  its  frame.  But  it 
was  stationary  ;  and  as  the  o-eutlcman  advanced  into  the  Ught,  I 
saw  that  he  was  some  years  older  than  when  he  had  had  his  picture 
-painted. 

"  Miss  Betsey  Trotwood,"  said  the  gentleman,  "  pray  walk  in.  I 
was  engaged  for  the  moment,  but  you'll  excuse  my  being  busy. 
You  know  my  motive.     I  have  but  one  in  life." 

Miss  Betsey  thanked  him,  and  we  went  into  his  room,  which  was 
furnished  as  an  office,  with  books,  papers,  tin  boxes,  and  so  forth. 
It  looked  into  a  garden,  and  had  an  iron  safe  let  into  the  wall  ;  so 
immediately  over  the  mantel-shelf,  that  I  wondered,  as  I  sat  do^^^l, 
how  the  sweeps  got  round  it  when  they  swept  the  chimney. 

"  Well,  Miss  Trotwood,"  said  Mr.  Wicktield  ;  for  I  soon  found 
that  it  was  he,  and  that  he  was  a  lawyer,  and  steward  of  the  estates 
5f  a  rich  gentleman  of  the  county  ;  "  what  wind  blows  you  here  ? 
Not  an  ill  wind,  I  hope  V 

"  No,"  replied  my  aunt,  "  I  have  not  come  for  any  law." 

"  That's  right,  ma'am,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield.  *'  You  had  better 
come  for  anything  else." 

His  hair  was  quite  white  now,  though  his  eyebrows  were  still 
black.  He  had  a  very  agreeable  face,  and,  I  thought,  was  hand- 
some. There  was  a  certain  richness  in  his  comj)lexion,  which  I  had 
been  long  accustomed,  under  Peggotty's  tuition,  to  connect  with 
port  wine  ;  and  I  fcincied  it  was  in  his  voice  too,  and  referred  his 
growing  corpulency  to  the  same  cause.  He  was  very  cleanly 
dressed,  in  a  blue  coat,  striped  waistcoat,  and  nankeen  trowsei's  ; 
and  bis  line  frilled  shirt  and  cambric  neckcloth  looked  unusually  soft 
and  white,  reminding  my  strolling  fancy  (I  call  to  mind)  of  the 
plumage  on  the  breast  of  a  swan. 

"  This  is  my  nephew,"  said  my  aunt. 

"Wasn't  aWare  you  had  one,  Miss  Trotwood,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  ^^y  grand-nepliew,  that  is  to  say,"  observed  my  aunt. 

"  Wasn't  aware  you  had  a  grand-nephew,  I  give  you  my  word," 
said  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  I  have  ado]>ted  him,"  said  my  aunt,  with  a  wave  of  her  hand, 
importing  that  h.^s  knowledge  and  his  ignorance  were  all  one  to  her, 
"and  I  have  brought  him  here,  to  put  him  to  a  school  where  he 


264  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

may  be  thoroughly  well  taught,  and  well  treated.  Now  tell  me 
where  that  school  is,  and  what  it  is,  and  all  about  it." 

"  Before  I  can  advise  you  properly,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield, — "  the  old 
question,  you  know.     What 's   your  motive  in  this  V 

"  Deuce  take  the  man  !"  exclaimed  my  aunt.  "  Always  fishing 
for  motives,  when  they  're  on  the  surface  !  Why,  to  make  the  child 
happy  and  useful." 

"  It  must  be  a  mixed  motive,  I  think,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield,  shak- 
ing his  head  and  smiling  incredulously. 

"  A  mixed  fiddlestick  !"  returned  my  aunt.  "  You  claim  to  have 
one  plain  motive  in  all  you  do  yourself.  You  don't  suppose,  I  hope, 
that  you  are  the, only  plain  dealer  in  the  world  ?" 

"  Ay,  but  I  have  only  one  motive  in  life.  Miss  Trotwood,"  he 
rejoined,  smiling.  "  Other  people  have  dozens,  scores,  hundreds. 
I  have  only  one.  There's  the  difference.  However,  that's  beside 
the  question.  The  best  school  ?  Whatever  the  motive,  you  want 
the  best  ?" 

My  aunt  nodded  assent. 

"  At  the  best  we  have,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield,  considering,  "  your 
nephew  couldn't  board  just  now." 

"  But  he  could  board  somewhere  else,  I  suppose,"  suggested  my 
aunt. 

Mr.  Wickfield  thought  I  could.  After  a  httle  discussion,  he  pro- 
posed to  take  my  aunt  to  the  school,  that  she  might  see  it  and  judge 
for  herself ;  also,  to  take  her,  with  the  same  object,  to  two  or  three 
houses  where  he  thought  I  could  be  boarded.  My  aunt  embracing 
the  proposal,  we  were  all  three  going  out  together,  when  he  stopped 
and  said :  ' 

"  Our  httle  friend  here  might  have  some  motive,  perhaps,  for  ob- 
jecting to  the  arrangements.  I  think  we  had  better  leave  him 
behind." 

My  aunt  seemed  disposed  to  contest  the  point ;  but  to  facilitate 
matters  I  said  I  would  gladly  remain  behind,  if  they  pleased  ;  and 
retm^ned  into  Mr.  Wickfield's  office,  where  I  sat  down  again,  in  the 
chair  I  had  first  occupied,  to  await  their  return. 

It  so  happened  that  this  chair  was  opposite  a  narrow  passage, 
which  ended  in  the  little  circular  room  where  I  had  seen  Uriah 
Heep's  pale  fece  looking  out  of  window.     Uriah,  having  taken  th« 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  265 

pony  to  a  neighboring  stable,  was  at  work  at  a  desk  in  this  room, 
which  had  a  brass  fi'ame  on  the  top  to  hang  papers  upon,  and  on 
which  the  writing  he  was  making  a  co])y  of  wiis  then  hanging. 
Though  his  face  was  towards  me,  T  tliought,  for  some  time,  the  writing 
being  between  us,  that  he  could  not  see  me  ;  but  looking  that  way 
more  attentively,  it  made  me  uncomfortable  to  observe  that,  every 
now  and  then,  his  sleepless  eyes  would  come  below  the  writing,  like 
two  red  suns,  and  stealthily  stare  at  me  for  I  dare  say  a  whola 
minute  at  a  ^ime,  during  which  his  pen  went,  or  pretended  to  go,  as 
cleverly  as  ever.  I  made  several  attempts  to  get  out  of  their  way 
— such  as  standing  on  a  chair  to  look  at  a  map  on  the  other  side  of 
the  room,  and  poring  over  the  columns  of  a  Kentish  newspaper — 
but  they  always  attracted  me  back  again ;  and  whenever  I  looked 
towards  those  two  red  suns,  I  wiis  sure  to  find  them,  either  just 
rising  or  just  setting. 

At  length,  much  to  my  relief,  my  aunt  and  ^Ir.  AVickfield  came 
back,  after  a  pretty  long  absence.  They  were  not  so  successful  as  I 
could  have  wished ;  for  though  the  advantages  of  the  school  were 
undeniable,  my  aunt  had  not  approved  of  any  of  the  boarding- 
houses  proposed  for  me. 

"  It's  very  unfortunate,"  said  my  aunt.  "  I  don't  know  what  to 
do.  Trot." 

"  It  does  happen  unfortunately,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield.  "  But  I'll 
tell  you  what  you  can  do.  Miss  Trotwood." 

"  What's  that  ?"  inquired  my  aunt. 

"  Leave  your  nephew  here,  for  the  present.  He's  a  quiet  fellow. 
He  won't  disturb  me  -  at  all.  It's  a  capital  house  for  study.  As 
quiet  as  a  mona^^tery,  and  almost  as  roomy.     Leave  him  here." 

My  aunt  e\idently  liked  the  offer,  though  she  was  dehcate  of 
accepting  it.     So  did  I. 

"  Come,  Miss  Trotwood,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield.  "  This  is  the  way 
out  )f  the  difficulty.  It's  only  a  temporary  arrangement,  you  know. 
K  it  don't  act  well,  or  don't  quite  accord  with  our  mutual  con- 
venience, he  can  easily  go  to  the  right  about.  There  -will  be  time 
to  firid  some  better  place  for  him  in  the  meanwhile.  You  had  bet- 
ter determine  to  leave  him  here  for  the  present !" 

"  I  am  veiy  much  obliged  to  you,"  said  my  aunt ;  "  and  so  is  he, 
I  see  ;  but — " 


266  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

"  Come!  I  know  what  you  mean,"  cried  Mr.  Wickfield.  "You 
Bhall  not  be  oppressed  by  the  receipt  of  favors,  Miss  Trotwood.  You 
may  pay  for  him  if  you  hke.  We  won't  be  hard  about  terms,  but 
you  shall  pay  if  you  will.'' 

"  On  that  understanding,"  said  my  aunt,  "  though  it  doesn't  lessen 
the  real  obligation,  I  shall  be  very  glad  to  leave  him." 

"  Then  come  and  see  my  httle  housekeeper,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield. 

We  accordingly  went  up  a  wonderful  old  staircase  ;  with  a  balus- 
trade so  broad  that  we  might  have  gone  up  that,  almost  as  easily ; 
and  mto  a  shady  old  ch-awing-room,  hghted  by  some  three  or  four 
of  the  quaint  windows  I  had  looked  up  at  from  the  street :  which 
had  old  oak  seats  in  them,  that  seemed  to  have  come  of  the  same 
trees  as  the  shining  oak  floor,  and  the  great  beams  iu  the  ceiling.  It 
was  a  prettily  furnished  room,  with  a  piano  and  some  lively  furniture 
in  red  and  green,  and  some  flowers.  It  seemed  to  be  all  old  nooks 
and  corners ;  and  in  every  nook  and  corner  there  was  some  queer 
httle  table,  or  cupboard,  or  bookcase,  or  seat,  or  something  or  other, 
that  made  me  think  there  was  not  such  another  good  corner  in  the 
room ;  until  I  looked  at  the  next  one,  and  found  it  equal  to  it,  if  not 
better.  On  everything  there  was  the  same  air  of  retirement  and 
cleanliness  that  marked  the  house  outside. 

Mr.  Wickfield  tapped  at  a  door  in  a  corner  of  the  paneled  wall, 
and  a  girl  of  about  my  own  age  came  quickly  out  and  kissed  him. 
On  her  face,  I  saw  immediately  the  placid  and  sweet  expression  of 
the  lady  whose  picture  had  looked  at  me  down-stairs.  It  seemed  to 
my  imagination  as  if  the  portrait  had  grown  womanly,  and  the 
original  remained  a  child.  Although  her  face  was  quite  bright  and 
happy,  there  was  a  tranquilhty  about  it,  and  about  her — a  quiet, 
good,  calm  spuit — that  I  never  have  forgotten  ;  that  I  never  shall 
forget. 

This  was  his  little  housekeeper,  his  daughter  Agnes,  Mr.  Wick- 
ueld  said.  Wlien  I  heard  how  he  said  it,  and  saw  how  he  held  her 
hand,  I  guessed  what  the  one  motive  of  his  life  was. 

She  had  a  little  basket-trifle  hanging  at  her  side,  with  keys  in  it ; 
and  looked  as  staid  and  as  discreet  a  housekeeper  as  the  old  house 
could  have.  She  listened  to  her  father  as  he  told  her  about  me, 
with  a  pleasant  face ;  and  when  he  had  concluded,  proposed  to  my 
ftunt  that  we  should  go  up  stairs  and  see  my  room.     We  all  went 


I 

I 


DAVID     COPPERFIELD.  267 

together  ;  she  before  us  :  and  a  glorious  old  room  it  was,  with  more 
oak  beams,  and  diamond  panes ;  and  the  broad  balustrade  going  all 
the  way  up  to  it. 

I  cannot  call  to  mind  where  or  when,  in  my  childhood,  I  had  seen 
a  stained  glass  window  in  a  church.  Nor  do  I  recollect  its  subject. 
But  I  know  that  when  I  saw  her  turn  round,  in  the  grave  hght  of 
the  old  staircase,  and  wait  for  us,  above,  I  thought  of  tliat  window ; 
and  that  I  associated  something  of  its  tranquil  brightness  with  Agnes 
Wickfield  ever  afterwards. 

My  aunt  was  as  happy  as  I  was,  in  the  arrangement  made  for 
me ;  and  we  went  down  to  the  drawing-room  again,  well  pleased 
and  gratified.  As  she  would  not  hear  of  staying  to  dinner,  lest  she 
should  by  any  chance  fail  to  arrive  at  home  with  the  grey  pony 
before  dark ;  and  as  I  apprehend  Mr.  Wickfield  knew  her  too  well, 
to  argue  any  point  with  her ;  some  lunch  was  provided  for  her 
there,  and  Agnes  went  back  to  her  governess,  and  Mr.  Wickfield  to 
his  office.  So  we  were  left  to  take  leave  of  one  another  without  any 
.restraint. 

She  told  me  that  everything  would  be  arranged  for  me  by  Mr. 
Wickfield,  and  that  I  should  want  for  nothing,  and  gave  me  the 
kindest  words  and  the  best  advice. 

"  Trot,"  said  my  aunt  in  conclusion,  "  be  a  credit  to  yourself,  to 
me,  and  Mr.  Dick,  and  Heaven  be  ^\^th  you  !" 

I  was  greatly  overcome,  and  could  only  thank  her,  again  and  again, 
and  send  my  love  to  Mr.  Dick. 

"  Never,"  said  my  aunt,  "  be  mean  in  anything ;  never  be  false ; 
never  be  cruel.  Avoid  those  three  vices,  Trot,  and  I  can  always  be 
hopeful  of  you." 

I  promised,  as  well  as  I  could,  that  I  would  not  abuse  her  kind- 
ness or  forget  her  admonition. 

"  The  pony's  at  tli3  door,"  said  my  aunt,  "  and  I  am  off !  Stay 
here." 

With  these  words  she  embraced  me  hastily,  and  went  out  of  the 
room,  shutting  the  door  after  her.  At  first  I  was  startled  by  so 
abrupt  a  dc]iaTture,  and  almost  feared  I  had  disjtleased  her ;  but 
when  I  looked  into  the  street,  and  snw  how  dejectedly  she  got  into 
tlie  chaise,  and  drove  away  without  looking  up,  I  understood  hei 
better,  and  did  not  do  her  that  injustice. 


268  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

By  five  o'clock,  which  was  Mr.  Wickfield's  dinner  hour,  I  had 
mustered  up  my  spirits  again,  and  was  ready  for  my  knife  and  fork. 
ITie  cloth  was  only  laid  for  us  two ;  but  Agnes  was  waiting  in  the 
drawing-room  before  dinner,  went  down  with  her  father,  and  sat 
opposite  to  him  at  table.  I  doubted  whether  he  could  have  dinel 
without  her. 

We  did  not  stay  there  after  dinner,  but  came  up-stairs  into  the 
drawing-room  again  :  in  one  snug  comer  of  which,  Agnes  set  glasses 
for  her  father,  and  a  decanter  of  port  wir^e.  I  thought  he  would 
have  missed  its  uswal  flavor,  if  it  had  been  put  there  for  him  by  any 
otJier  hands. 

There  he  sat,  taking  his  -wine,  and  taking  a  good  deal  of  it,  for 
two  hours  ;  while  Agnes  played  on  the  piano,  worked,  and  talked  to 
him  and  me.  He  was,  for  the  most  part,  gay  and  cheeiful  with  us ; 
but  sometimes  his  eyes  rested  on  her,  and  he  fell  into  a  brooding 
state,  and  was  silent.  She  always  observed  this  quickly,  as  I  thought, 
and  always  roused  him  with  a  question  or  a  caress.  Then  he  came 
out  of  his  meditation,  and  drank  more  wine. 

Agnes  made  the  tea  and  presided  over  it ;  and  the  time  passed 
away  after  it,  as  after  dinner,  until  she  went  to  bed  ;  when  her  father 
took  her  in  his  arms  and  kissed  her,  and,  she  being  gone,  ordered 
candles  in  his  office.     Then  I  went  to  bed  too. 

But  in  the  course  of  the  evening  I  had  rambled  down  to  the  door, 
and  a  httle  way  along  the  street,  that  I  might  have  another  peep  at 
the  old  houses,  ind  the  gray  Cathedral ;  and  might  think  of  my 
coming  through  ^.hat  old  city  on  my  journey,  and  of  my  passing  the 
very  house  I  hv<  i  in,  without  knowing  it.  As  I  came  back,  I  saw 
Uriah  Heep  s)i  'tting  up  the  office ;  and  feeling  friendly  towards 
e^^ery  body,  wen'  in  and  spoke  to  him,  and  at  parting,  gave  him  my 
hand.  But  oh,  what  a  clammy  hand  his  was !  as  ghostly  to  the 
touch  as  to  thf  sight !  I  rubbed  mine  aftei'wards  to  warm  it,  and 
to  rub  his  off. 

It  was  such  an  uncomfortable  hand,  that,  when  I  went  to  my 
room,  it  was  n'.ill  cold  and  wet  upon  my  memory.  Leaning  out  of 
window,  and  seeing  one  of  the  faces  on  the  beam-ends  looking  at 
ms  sideways,  I  fancied  it  was  Uriah  Heep  got  up  there  somehow, 
and  shut  him  out  in  a  hurry. 


CHAPTER  XYI. 

I   AM    A    NEW    BOY   IN    MORE    SENSES    THAN    ONE. 

Next  morning,  after  breakfast,  I  entered  on  school  life  again.  I 
vent,  accompanied  by  Mr.  Wickfield,  to  the  scene  of  my  future 
studies — a  grave  building  in  a  court-yard,  with  a  learned  air  about 
it  that  seemed  very  well  suited  to  the  stray  rooks  and  jackdaws  who 
came  down  from  the  Cathedral  towers  to  walk  with  a  clerkly  bearing 
on  the  grass-plot — and  was  introduced  to  my  new  master,  Doctor 
Stronor. 

Doctor  Strong  looked  almost  as  rusty,  to  my  thinking,  as  the  tall 
h-on  rails  and  gates  outside  the  house  ;  and  almost  as  stitf  and  heavy 
as  the  great  stone  urns  that  flanked  them,  and  were  set  up,  on  the 
top  of  the  red-brick  wall,  at  regular  distances  all  round  the  court, 
like  subHmated  skittles,  for  Time  to  i)lay  at.  He  was  in  his  library 
(I  mean  Doctor  Strong  was),  with  his  clothes  not  particularly  well 
brushed,  and  his  hair  not  particularly  well  combed  ;  his  knee-smalls 
unbraced ;  his  long  black  gaiters  unbuttoned ;  and  his  shoes  yawn- 
ing Uke  two  caverns  on  the  hearth-rug.  Turning  upon  me  a  lustre- 
less eye,  that  reminded  me  of  a  long-forgotten  blind  old  horse  who 
once  used  to  croj)  the  grass,  and  tumble  over  the  graves,  in  Blunder- 
stone  churchyard,  he  said  he  was  glad  to  see  me :  and  then  he  gave 
me  his  hand ;  which  I  didn't  know  what  to  do  with,  as  it  did  nothing 
for  itself. 

But,  sitting  at  work,  not  far  off  from  Doctor  Strong,  was  a  very 
pretty  young  lady — whom  he  called  Annie,  and  who  was  his  daugh- 
ter, I  supposed — who  got  me  out  of  my  difficulty  by  kneeling  down 
to  put  Doctor  Strong's  shoes  on,  and  button  his  gaiters,  which  she 
did  \vith  great  cheerfulness  and  quickness.  Wlien  she  had  finished, 
and  we  were  going  out  to  the  school-room,  I  was  much  surprised  to 
bear  Mr.  Wickfield,  in  bidding  her  good  morning,  address  her  aa 

269 


^70  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Mrs.  Strong  ;"  and  I  was  wondering  could  she  be  Doctor  Strong's 
son's  wife,  or  could  she  be  Mrs.  Doctor  Strong,  when  Doctor  Strong 
himself  unconsciously  enlightened  me. 

"  By  the  bye,  Wickfield,"  he  said,  stopping  in  a  passage  with  his 
hand  on  my  shoulder ;  "  you  have  not  found  any  suitable  provision 
for  my  wife's  cousin  yet  ?" 

"  No,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield.     "  No.     Not  yet." 

"  I  could  wish  it  done  as  soon  as  it  can  be  done,  Wickfield,"  said 
Doctor  Strong,  "  for  Jack  Maldon  is  needy,  and  idle ;  and  of  those 
two  bad  things,  worse  things  sometimes  come.  What  does  Doctor 
Watts  say,"  he  added,  looking  at  me,  and  moving  his  head  to  the 
time  of  his  quotation,  " '  Satan  finds  some  mischief  still,  for  idle 
hands  to  do.' " 

"  Egad,  doctor,"  returned  Mr.  Wickfield,  "  if  Doctor  Watts  knew 
mankind,  he  might  have  written,  with  as  much  truth,  '  Satan  finds 
«ome  mischief  still,  for  busy  hands  to  do.'  The  busy  people  achieve 
their  full  share  of  mischief  in  the  world,  you  may  rely  upon  it. 
What  have  the  people  been  about,  who  have  been  the  busiest  in 
getting  money,  and  in  getting  power,  this  century  or  two  ?  No 
mischief  ?" 

"  Jack  ]\Ialdon  wdll  never  be  very  busy  in  getting  either,  I  expect," 
said  Doctor  Strong,  rubbing  his  chin  thoughtfully. 

"  Perhaps  not,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield  ;  "  and  you  bnng  me  back  to 
the  question,  with  an  apology  for  digressing.  No,  I  have  not  been 
able  to  dispose  of  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  yet.  I  beheve,"  he  said  this 
with  some  hesitation,  "  I  penetrate  your  motive,  and  it  makes  the 
thino;  more  difficult." 

"  My  motive,"  returned  Dr.  Strong,  "  is  to  make  some  suitable 
provision  for  a  cousin,  and  an  old  playfellow,  of  Annie's." 

"  Yes,  I  know,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield ;  "  at  home  or  abroad." 

"  Aye !"  replied  the  Doctor,  apparently  wondering  why  he  em- 
phasised these  words  so  much.     "  At  home  or  abroad." 

"  Your  own  ex|Dression,  you  know,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield.  "  Oi 
abroad." 

"  Surely,"  the  Doctor  answered.     "  Surely.     One  or  other." 

"  One  or  other  ?     Have  you  no  choice  ?"  asked  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  No,"  returned  the  Doctor. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  271 

"  No  ?"  witli  a'^tonishment 

"  Not  the  least." 

"  No  motive,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield,  "  for  meaning  abroad,  and  not 
at  home  V 

"  No,"  returned  the  Doctor. 

"  I  am  bound  to  beUeve  you,  and  of  course  I  do  believe  you," 
said  Mr.  Wickfield.  "  It  might  have  simplified  my  office  very 
much,  if  I  had  known  it  before.  But  I  confess  I  entertained  another 
impression." 

Doctor  Strong  regarded  him  with  a  puzzled  and  doubting  look, 
which  almost  immediately  subsided  into  a  smile  that  gave  me  great 
encouragement ;  for  it  was  full  of  amiability  and  sweetness,  and 
there  was  a  simplicity  in  it,  and  indeed  in  his  whole  manner,  when 
the  studious,  pondering  frost  upon  it  was  got  through,  very  attractive 
and  hopeful  to  a  young  scholar  like  me.  Repeating  "  no,"  and  "  not 
the  least,"  and  other  short  assurances  to  the  same  purport.  Doctor 
Strong  jogged  on  before  us,  at  a  queer,  uneven  pace ;  and  we  fol- 
lowed :  Mr.  Wickfield  looking  grave,  I  observed,  and  shaking  his 
head  to  himselt*  without  knowing  that  I  saw  him. 

The  school-room  was  a  pretty  large  hall,  on  the  quietest  side  of 
the  house,  confronted  by  the  stately  stare  of  some  half-dozen  of  the 
great  urns,  and  commanding  a  peep  of  an  old  secluded  garden  be- 
longing to  the  Doctor,  where  the  peaches  were  ripening  on  the 
sunny  south  wall.  There  were  two  great  aloes,  in  tubs,  on  the  turf 
outside  the  windows ;  the  broad  hard  leaves  of  which  plant  (look- 
ing as  if  they  were  made  of  painted  tin)  have  ever  since,  by  asso- 
ciation, been  symbolical  to  me  of  silence  and  retirement.  About 
tive-and-twenty  boys  were  studiously  engaged  at  their  books  when 
we  went  in,  but  they  rose  to  give  the  Doctor  good  morning,  and 
remained  standing  when  they  saw  Mr.  Wickfield  and  me. 

"  A  new  boy,  young  gentlemen,"  said  the  Doctor ;  "  Trotwood 
Copperfield." 

One  Adams,  who  was  the  head-boy,  then  stepped  out  of  his  place 
and  welcomed  rae.  He  looked  like  a  young  clergyman,  in  his  white 
cravat,  but  he  was  very  affable  and  good-humored ;  and  he  showed 
me  my  place,  and  presented  me  to  the  masters,  in  a  gentlemanly 
way  that  would  have  put  me  at  my  ease,  if  anything  could. 


272  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

It  seemed  to  me  so  long,  however,  since  I  had  been  among  such 
boys,  or  among  any  companions  of  my  own  age,  except  Mick  Wal- 
ker and  Mealey  Potatoes,  that  I  felt  as  strange  as  [  ever  have  done 
in  all  my  life.  I  was  so  conscious  of  having  passed  through  scenes 
of  which  they  could  have  no  knowledge,  and  of  having  acquired  ex- 
periences foreign  to  my  age,  appearance,  and  condition,  as  one  of 
them,  that  I  half  beheved  it  was  an  imposture  to  come  there  as  an 
ordinary  httle  schoolboy.  I  had  become,  in  the  Murdstone  and 
Grinby  time,  however  short  or  long  it  may  have  been,  so  unused  to 
the  sports  and  games  of  boys,  that  I  knew  I  was  awkward  and  in- 
experienced in  the  commonest  things  belonging  to  them.  Whatever 
I  had  learnt,  had  so  slipped  away  ft'om  me  in  the  sordid  cares  of  my 
life  from  day  to  night,  that  now,  when  I  was  examined  about  what 
I  knew,  I  knew  nothing,  and  was  put  into  the  lowest  form  of  the 
school.  But,  troubled  as  I  was,  by  my  want  of  boyish  skill,  and  of 
book-learning  too,  I  was  made  infinitely  more  uncomfortable  by  the 
consideration,  that,  in  what  I  did  know,  I  was  much  faither  removed 
from  my  companions  than  in  what  I  did  not.  My  mind  ran  upon 
what  they  would  think,  if  they  knew  of  my  famihar  acquaintance 
with  the  King's  Bench  Prison  ?  Was  there  anything  about  me 
which  would  reveal  my  proceedings  in  connexion  with  the  Micawber 
family — all  those  pawnings,  and  sellings,  and  suppers — in  spite  of 
myself?  Suppose  some  of  the  boys  had  seen  me  coming  through 
Canterbury,  wayworn  and  ragged,  and  should  find  me  out'?  What 
would  they  say,  who  made  so  light  of  money,  if  they  could  know 
how  I  had  scraped  my  halfpence  together,  for  the  purchase  of  my 
daily  saveloy  and  beer,  or  my  slices  of  pudding  ?  How  would  it 
affect  them,  who  were  so  innocent  of  London  life,  and  London  streets, 
to  discover  how  knowing  I  was  (and  was  iishamed  to  be)  in  some  of 
the  meanest  phases  of  both  ?  All  this  ran  in  my  head  so  much,  on 
that  fii-st  day  at  Doctor  Strong's,  that  I  felt  distrustful  of  my  slightest 
look  and  gesture  ;  shrunk  within  myself  whensoever  I  was  approach- 
ed by  one  of  my  new  schoolfellows  ;  and  hurried  off  the  minute 
Bchool  was  over,  afraid  of  committing  myself  in  ray  response  to  any 
fiiendly  notice  or  advance. 

But  there  was  such  an  influence  in  Mr.  Wickfield's  old  house,  that 
when  I  knocked  at  it,  with  my  new  school-books  under  my  arm,  I 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  273 

began  to  feel  my  uneasiness  softening  away.  As  I  went  up  to  my 
airy  old  room,  the  gi*ave  shadow  of  the  staircase  seemed  to  fall  upon 
my  doubts  and  fears,  and  to  make  the  past  more  indistinct.  I  sat 
there,  sturdily  conning  my  books,  until  dinner  time  (we  were  out  of 
school  for  good  at  three) ;  and  went  down,  hopeful  of  becoming  a 
passable  sort  of  boy  yet. 

Agnes  was  in  the  drawing-  room,  waiting  for  her  father,  who  was 
detained  by  some  one  in  his  office.  She  met  me  with  her  pleasant 
smile,  and  asked  me  how  I  liked  the  school.  I  told  her  I  should  hke 
it  very  much,  I  hoped  ;  but  I  was  a  httle  strange  to  it  at  first. 

"  You  have  never  been  to  school,"  I  said,  "  have  you  ?" 

"  Oh,  yes  !     Every  day." 

"  Ah,  but  you  mean  here,  at  your  own  home  ?" 

"  Papa  couldn't  spare  me  to  go  anywhere  else,"  she  answered, 
smiling  and  shaking  her  head.  "  His  housekeeper  must  be  in  his 
house,  you  know." 

"  He  is  very  fond  of  you,  I  am  sure,"  I  said. 

She  nodded  "  Yes,"  and  went  to  the  door  to  hsten  for  his  coming 
up,  that  she  might  meet  him  on  the  stairs.  But,  as  he  was  not 
there,  she  came  back  again. 

"  Mama  has  been  dead  ever  since  I  was  born,"  she  said,  in  her 
quiet  way.  "I  only  know  her  picture,  down  stairs.  I  saw  you 
looking  at  it  yesterday.     Did  you  think  whose  it  was  ?" 

I  told  her  yes,  because  it  was  so  like  herself. 

"  Papa  says  so,  too,"  said  Agnes,  pleased.  "  Hark  !  That's  papa 
now  !" 

Her  bright  calm  face  lighted  up  with  pleasure  as  she  went  to 
meet  him,  and  as  they  came  in,  hand  in  hand.  He  greeted  me 
cordially ;  and  told  me  I  should  certainly  be  happy  under  Doctor 
Strong,  who  was  one  of  the  gentlest  of  men. 

"  There  may  be  some,  perhaps — I  don't  know  that  there  are — 
who  abuse  his  kindness,"  said  Mr.  Wicktield.  "  Never  be  one  of 
those,  Trotwood,  in  anything.  He  is  the  least  suspicious  of  man- 
kind ;  and  whether  that's  a  merit,  or  whether  it 's  a  blemish,  it 
deserves  consideration  in  all  dealings  with  the  Doctor,  great  or 
small." 

He  spoke,  I  thought,  as  if  he  were  weary,  or  dissatisfied  with 
17 


274  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

something  ;  but  I  did  not  pursue  the  question  in  my  mind,  for  din- 
ner was  just  then  announced,  and  we  went  down  and  took  the  same 
seats  as  before. 

We  had  scarcely  done  so,  when  Uriah  Heep  put  in  his  red  head 
and  his  lank  hand  at  the  door,  and  said : 

"  Here's  Mr.  Maldon  begs  the  favor  of  a  word,  sir." 

"  I  am  but  this  moment  quit  of  Mr.  Maldon,"  said  his  master. 

"  Yes,  sir,"  returned  Uriah ;  "  but  Mr.  Maldon  has  come  back,  and 
he  begs  the  favor  of  a  word." 

As  he  held  the  door  open  with  his  hand,  Uriah  looked  at  me,  and 
/ooked  at  Agnes,  and  looked  at  the  dishes,  and  looked  at  the  plates, 
and  looked  at  every  object  in  the  room,  I  thought, — ^yet  seemed  to 
look  at  nothing ;  he  made  such  an  appearance  all  the  while  of  keep- 
ing his  red  eyes  dutifully  on  his  master. 

"  I  beg  your  pardon.  It 's  only  to  say,  on  reflection,"  observed  a 
voice  behind  Uriah,  as  Uriah's  head  was  pushed  away,  and  the 
speaker's  substituted — "  pray  excuse  me  for  this  intrusion — that  as  it 
seems  I  have  no  choice  in  the  matter,  the  sooner  I  go  abroad,  the 
better.  My  cousin  Annie  did  say,  when  we  talked  of  it,  that  she 
hked  to  have  her  friends  within  reach  rather  than  to  have  them 
banished,  and  the  old  Doctor — " 

"  Doctor  Strong,  was  that  ?"  Mr.  Wickfield  interposed,  gravely. 

"  Doctor  Strong  of  course,"  returned  the  other  ;  "  I  call  him  the 
old  Doctor — it's  all  the  same,  you  know." 

"  I  don't  know,"  returned  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  Well,  Doctor  Strong,"  said  the  other — "  Doctor  Strong  was  of 
the  same  mind,  I  believed.  But  as  it  appears  from  the  course  you 
take  with  me  that  he  has  changed  his  mind,  why  there's  no  more  to 
be  said,  except  that  the  sooner  I  am  off,  the  better.  Therefore,  I 
thought  I'd  come  back  and  say,  that  the  sooner  I  am  off,  the  better. 
When  a  i)lunge  is  to  be  made  into  the  water,  it 's  of  no  use  hngering 
on  the  bank." 

"  There  shall  be  as  little  lingering  as  possible,  in  your  case,  ^Ir. 
Maldon,  you  may  depend  upon  it,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  Thank'ee,"  said  the  other.  "  Much  obliged.  I  don't  want  to 
look  a  gift-horse  in  the  mouth,  which  is  not  a  gracious  thing  to  do ; 
f  therwise,  I  dare  say,  mycous  in  Annie  could  easily  arrange  it  in  her 


DAVID    COrPERFIELD.  275 

own  way.  I  suppose  Annie  would  only  have  to  say  to  the  old 
Doctor—" 

"  Meaning  that  Mrs.  Strong  would  only  have  to  say  to  her  hus- 
band— do  I  follow  you  ?"  said  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  Quite  so,"  returned  the  other,  "  — would  only  have  to  say,  that 
she  wanted  such  and  such  a  thing  to  be  so  and  so ;  and  it  would 
be  so  and  so,  as  a  matter  of  course." 

"  And  why  as  a  matter  of  course,  Mr.  Maldon  ?"  asked  Mr.  Wick- 
field, sedately  eating  his  dinner. 

"  Why,  because  Annie  's  a  charming  young  girl,  and  the  old 
Doctor — Doctor  Strong,  I  mean — is  not  quite  a  charming  young 
boy,"  said  Mr.  Jack  Maldon,  laughing.  "  No  ofience  to  anybody, 
Mr.  Wickfield.  I  only  mean  that  I  suppose  some  compensation  is 
fair  and  reasonable,  in  that  sort  of  marriage." 

"  Compensation  to  the  lady,  sir  ?"  asked  Mr.  Wickfield  gravely. 

"  To  the  lady,  sir,"  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  answered,  laughing.  But 
appearing  to  remark  that  Mr.  Wickfield  went  on  with  his  dinner  m 
the  same  sedate,  immoveable  manner,  and  that  there  was  no  hope 
of  making  him  relax  a  muscle  of  his  face,  he  added  : 

"  However,  I  have  said  what  I  came  back  to  say,  and,  with  an- 
other apology  for  this  intrusion,  I  may  take  myself  ofi".  Of  coui-se 
I  shall  observe  your  directions,  in  considering  the  matter  as  one  to 
be  arranged  between  you  and  me  solely,  and  not  to  be  referred  to, 
up  at  the  Doctor's." 

"  Have  you  dined  ?"  asked  Mr.  Wickfield,  with  a  motion  of  his 
hand  towards  the  table. 

"  Thank'ee.  I  am  going  to  dine,"  said  Mr.  Maldon,  "  with  my 
cousin  Annie.     Good  bye  I" 

Mr.  Wickfield,  without  rising,  looked  after  him  thoughtfully  as  he 
went  out.  He  was  rather  a  shallow  sort  of  young  gentleman,  I 
thought,  with  a  handsome  face,  a  rapid  utterance,  and  a  confident, 
bold  air.  And  this  was  the  first  1  ever  saw  of  Mr.  Jack  Mal- 
don ;  whom  I  had  not  expected  to  see  so  soon,  when  I  heard  the 
Doctor  speak  of  him  that  morning. 

When  we  had  dined,  we  went  up-stairs  again,  where  everything 
went  on  exactly  as  on  the  previous  day.  Agnes  set  the  ghisses  and 
deciiutei-s  in  the  same  corner,  and  Mr.  Wickfield  sat  down  to  drink, 


276  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

k   • 

and  drank  a  good  deal.     Agnes  played  the  piano  to  him,  sat  by 

him,  and  worked  and  talked,  and  played  some  games  at  dominoes 
Avith  me.  In  good  time  she  made  tea ;  and  afterwards,  when  I 
brought  down  my  books,  looked  into  them,  and  showed  me  what 
she  knew  of  them  (which  was  no  slight  matter,  though  she  said  it 
was),  and  what  was  the  best  way  to  learn  and  understand  them.  I 
see  her,  with  her  modest,  orderly,  placid  manner,  and  I  hear  her 
beautiful  calm  voice,  as  I  write  these  words.  The  influence  for  all 
good,  which  she  came  to  exercise  over  me  at  a  later  time,  begins 
already  to  descend  upon  my  breast.  I  love  httle  Em'ly,  and  I  don't 
love  Agnes — no,  not  at  all  in  that  way — but  I  feel  that  there  are 
goodness,  peace,  and  truth,  wherever  Agnes  is  ;  and  that  the  soft 
light  of  the  colored  window  in  the  church,  seen  long  ago,  falls  on 
her  always,  and  on  me  wdien  I  am  near  her,  and  on  everything 
around. 

.  The  time  having  come  for  her  withdrawal  for  the  night,  and  she 
having  left  us,  I  gave  Mr.  Wickfield  my  hand,  preparatory  to  going 
away  myself.  But  he  checked  me  and  said  :  "  Should  you  like  to 
stay  with  us,  Trotwood,  or  to  go  elsewhere  2" 

"  To  stay,"  I  answered,  quickly. 

"  You  are  sure  ?" 

"  If  you  please.     If  I  may  !" 

"  Why,  it 's  but  a  dull  life  that  we  lead  here,  boy,  I  am  afraid,*" 
he  said. 

"  Not  more  dull  for  me  than  Agnes,  sir.     Not  dull  at  all !" 

"  Than  Agnes,"  he  repeated,  walking  slowly  to  the  great  chimney 
piece,  and  leaning  against  it.     "  Than  Agnes  ! " 

He  had  drunk  wine  that  evening  (or  I  fancied  it)  until  his  eyes 
were  bloodshot.  Not  that  I  could  see  them  now,  for  they  were  cast 
down,  and  shaded  by  his  hand ;  but  I  had  noticed  them  a  little 
while  before. 

"  Now  I  wonder,"  he  muttered,  "  wbether  my  Agnes  tires  of  me. 
When  should  I  ever  tire  of  her !  But  that 's  different — that 's 
quite  different." 

He  was  musing — not  speaking  to  me  ;  so  I  remained  quiet. 

"  A  dull  old  house,"  he  said,  "  and  a  monotonous  life  ;  but  I  must 
have  her  near  me.     I  must  k6ep  her  near  me.     K  the  thought  that 


DAVID    CpPPERFIELD.  277 

4 

I  may  die  and  leave  my  darling,  or  that  my  darling  may  die  and 
leave  me,  comes,  like  a  spectre,  to  distress  my  happiest  houi*s,  and 
IS  only  to  be  drowned  in " 

He  did  not  supply  the  word  ;  but  pacing  slowly  to  the  place 
where  he  had  sat,  and  mechanically  going  through  the  action  of 
pouring  wine  from  the  empty  decanter,  set  it  down  and  paced  back 
aofain. 

"  If  it  is  miserable  to  bear,  when  she  is  here,"  he  said,  "  what 
would  it  be,  and  she  away  ?     No,  no,  no.     I  can  not  try  that." 

He  leaned  against  the  chimney-piece,  brooding  so  long  that  I 
could  not  decide  whether  to  run  the  risk  of  disturbing  him  by  going, 
or  to  remain  quietly  where  I  was,  until  he  should  come  out  of  his 
reverie.  At  length  he  aroused  himself,  and  looked  about  the  room 
until  his  eyes  encountered  mine. 

"  Stay  with  us,  Trotwood,  eh  ?"  he  said,  in  his  usual  manner,  and 
as  if  he  were  answering  something  I  had  just  said.  "  I  am  glad  of 
it.  You  are  company  to  us  both.  It  is  wholesome  to  have  you 
here.  Wholesome  for  me,  wholesome  for  Agnes,  wholesome  per- 
haps for  all  of  us." 

"  I  am  sure  it  is  for  me,  sir,"  I  said.  "  I  am  so  glad  to  be 
here." 

"  That 's  a  fine  fellow !"  said  Mr.  Wickfield.  "  As  long  as  you 
are  glad  to  be  here,  you  shall  stay  here."  He  shook  hands  with 
me  upon  it,  and  clapped  me  on  the  back ;  and  told  me  that  when  I 
had  anything  to  do  at  night  after  Agnes  had  left  us,  or  when  I 
wished  to  read  for  my  own  pleasure,  I  was  free  to  come  to  his  room, 
if  he  were  there  and  if  I  desired  it  for  company's  sake,  and  to  sit 
with  him.  I  thanked  him  for  his  consideration ;  and,  as  he  went 
down  soon  afterwards,  and  I  was  not  tired,  went  down  too,  with 
a  book  in  my  hand,  to  avail  myself,  for  half-an-hour,  of  his  permis- 
sion. 

But,  seeing  a  light  in  the  little  round  office,  and  immediately  feel- 
ing myself  attracted  towards  Uriah  Heep,  who  had  a  sort  of  fascina- 
tion for  me,  I  went  in  there  instead.  I  found  Uriah  reading  a  great 
fat  book,  with  such  demonstrative  attention,  that  his  lank  fore-finger 
followed  up  every  line  as  he  read,  and  made  clammy  tracks  along 
the  page  (or  so  I  fully  believed)  like  a  snail. 


278  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

"  You  are  working  late  to-night,  Uriah,"  says  I. 

"  Yes,  Master  Copperfield,"  says  Uriah. 

As  I  was  getting  on  the  stool  opposite,  to  talk  to  him  more  con- 
veniently, I  observed  that  he  had  not  such  a  thing  as  a  smile  about 
him,  and  that  he  could  only  widen  his  mouth  and  make  two  hard 
creases  down  his  cheeks,  one  on  each  side,  to  stand  for  one. 

"  I  am  not  doing  office-work,  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Uriah. 

"  What  work,  then  ?"  I  asked. 

"  I  am  improving  my  legal  knowledge.  Master  Copperfield,"  said 
Uriah.  "  I  am  going  through  Tidd's  Practice.  Oh,  what  a  writer 
Mr.  Tidd  is.  Master  Copperfield  !" 

My  stool  was  such  a  tower  of  observation,  that  as  I  w^atched  him 
reading  on  again,  after  this  rapturous  exclamation,  and  following  up 
the  hnes  with  his  fore-finger,  I  observed  that  his  nostrils,  which  were 
thin  and  pointed  with  sharp  dints  in  them,  had  a  singular  and  most 
uncomfortable  way  of  expanding  and  contracting  themselves — that 
they  seemed  to  twinkle,  instead  of  his  eyes,  which  hardly  ever  twin- 
kled at  all. 

"  I  suppose  you  are  quite  a  great  lawyer  ?"  I  said  after  looking  at 
him  for  some  time. 

"  Me,  Master  Copperfield  ?"  said  Uriah.  "  Oh,  no !  I'm  a  very 
umble  person." 

It  was  no  fancy  of  mine  about  his  hands,  I  observed  ;  for  he  fre- 
quently ground  the  palms  against  each  other  as  if  to  squeeze  them 
dry  and  warm,  besides  often  wii^ing  them,  in  a  stealthy  way,  on  his 
pocketrhandkerchief 

"  I  am  well  aware  that  I  am  the  umblest  person  going,"  said  Uriah 
Heep,  modestly ;  "  let  the  other  be  where  he  may.  My  mother  is 
likewise  a  very  umble  person.  We  live  in  a  numble  abode.  Master 
Copperfield,  but  have  much  to  be  thankful  for.  My  father's  former 
calling  was  umble.     He  was  a  sexton." 

"  AVhat  is  be  now  ?"  I  asked. 

"  He  is  a  partaker  of  glory  at  present.  Master  Copperfield,"  said 
Uriah  Heep.  "  But  we  have  much  to  be  thankful  for.  How  much 
have  I  to  be  thankful  for,  in  living  with  Mr.  Wickfield  !" 

I  asked  Uriah  if  he  had  been  h\dng  with  Mr.  Wickfield  long  ? 

"  I  have  been  with  him,  goin^  on  four  year,  Master  Copperfield," 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  279 

said  Uriah  ;  shutting  up  his  book,  after  carefully  marking  the  place 
where  he  had  left  off.  "  Sinct  a  year  after  my  father's  death.  How 
much  have  I  to  be  thankful  for,  in  that !  ^How  much  have  I  to  be 
thankful  for,  in  Mr.  Wickfield's  kind  intention  to  give  me  my  arti- 
cles, which  would  otherwise  not  lay  within  the  umble  means  of 
mother  and  self !" 

"  Then,  when  your  articled  time  is  over,  you'll  be  a  regular  law- 
yer, I  suppose  ?"  said  I. 

"  With  the  blessing  of  Providence,  Master  Copperfield,"  returned 
Uriah, 

"  Perhaps  you'll  be  a  partner  in  Mr.  Wickfield's  business,  one  of 
these  days,"  I  said,  to  make  myself  agreeable ;  "  and  it  will  be 
"Wickfield  and  Heep,  or  Heep,  late  Wickfield." 

"  Oh,  no.  Master  Copperfield,"  returned  Uriah,  shaking  his  head. 
'*  I  am  much  too  umble  for  that !" 

He  certainly  did  look  uncommonly  like  the  carved  face  on  the 
beam  outside  my  window,  as  he  sat,  in  his  humility,  eyeing  me  side- 
ways, with  his  mouth  widened,  and  the  creases  in  his  cheeks. 

"  Mr.  Wickfield  is  a  most  excellent  man,  Master  Copperfield,"  said 
Uriah.  "  If  you  have  known  him  long,  you  know  it,  I  am  sure, 
much  better  than  I  can  inform  you." 

I  replied  that  I  was  certain  he  was ;  but  that  I  had  not  known 
him  long  myself,  though  he  was  a  friend  of  my  aunt's. 

"  Oh,  indeed.  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Uriah.  "  Your  aunt  is  a 
sweet  lady.  Master  Copperfield  !" 

He  had  a  way  of  writhing  when  he  wanted  to  express  enthusiasm, 
which  was  veiy  ugly  ;  and  which  diverted  my  attention  from  the 
compliment  he  had  paid  my  relation,  to  the  snaky  tvvistings  of  his 
throat  and  body. 

"  A  sweet  lady,  Master  Copperfield  !"  said  Uriah  Heep.  "  She 
has  a  great  admiration  for  Miss  Agnes,  Master  Copperfield,  I 
believe  ?" 

I  said  "  Yes,"  boldly  ;  not  that  I  knew  anything  about  it,  Heaven 
forgive  me  ! 

"  I  hope  you  have,  too,  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Uriah.  "  But  I 
am  sufe  vou  must  have." 

"  Everybody  must  have,"  I  returned. 


280  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Oh,  thank  you,  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Uriah  Heep,  "  for  that 
remark  !  It  is  so  true  !  Umble  as  I  am,  I  know  it  is  so  true  !  Oh, 
thank  you.  Master  Copperfield  !" 

He  ^vrithed  himself  quite  off  his  stool  in  the  excitement  of  his 
feehngs,  and  being  off,  began  to  make  arrangements  for  going 
home. 

"  Mother  will  be  expecting  me,"  he  said,  referring  to  a  pale,  inex- 
pressive-faced watch  in  his  pocket,  "  and  getting  uneasy  ;  for  though 
we  are  very  umble.  Master  Copperfeld,  we  are  much  attached  to 
one  another.  If  you  would  come  and  see  us,  any  afternoon,  and 
take  a  cup  of  tea  at  our  lowly  dwelHng,  mother  would  be  ^  proud 
of  your  company  as  I  should  be." 

I  said  I  should  be  glad  to  come. 

"Thank  you.  Master  Copperfield,"  returned  Uriah,  putting  his 
book  away  upon  a  shelf — "  I  suppose  you  stop  here,  some  time, 
Master  Copperfield  ?" 

I  said  I  was  going  to  be  brought  up  there,  I  behaved,  as  long  as 
I  remained  at  school. 

"  Oh,  indeed  !"  exclaimed  Uriah.  "  I  should  think  you  would 
come  into  the  business  at  last.  Master  Copperfield  1" 

I  protested  that  I  had  no  views  of  that  sort,  and  that  no  such 
scheme  was  entertained  in  my  behalf  by  anybody ;  but  Uriah  insisted 
on  blandly  replying  to  all  my  assurances,  "  Oh,  yes,  Master  Copper- 
field,  I  should  think  you  would,  indeed  !"  and,  "  Oh,  indeed.  Master 
Copperfield,  I  should  think  you  would,  certainly ! "  over  and 
over  again.  Being,  at  last,  ready  to  leave  the  office  for  the 
night,  he  asked  me  if  it  would  suit  my  convenience  to  have  the  light 
put  out ;  and  on  my  answering  "  Yes,"  instantly  extinguished  it. 
After  shaking  hands  with  me — his  hand  felt  like  a  fish,  in  the  dark 
— ^he  opened  the  door  into  the  street  a  very  little,  and  crept  out,  and 
shut  it,  leaving  me  to  grope  «y  way  back  into  the  house  :  which 
cost  me  some  trouble  and  a  fall  over  his  stool.  This  was  the  prox- 
imate cause,  I  suppose,  of  my  dreaming  about  him,  for  what  appeared 
to  me  to  be  half  the  night ;  and  dreaming,  among  other  things,  that 
he  had  launched  Mr.  Peggotty's  house  on  a  piratical  expedition, 
with  a  black  flag  at  the  mast-head,  bearing  the  inscription  "  Tidd's 
Practice,"  under  which  diabolical  ensign  he  was  carrying  me  and 
little  EmUy  to  the  Spanish  Main  to  be  drowned. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  281 

I  got  a  little  the  better  of  my  uneasiness  when  I  went  to  schoo' 
next  day,  and  a  good  deal  the  bettor  next  day,  and  so  shook  it  off 
by  degrees  that  in  less  than  a  fortnight  I  was  quite  at  home,  and 
hap})y,  among  my  new  companions.  I  Wcis  awkward  enough  in 
their  games,  and  backward  enough  in  their  studies  ;  but  custom 
would  improve  me  in  the  first  respect,  I  hoped,  and  hard  work  in 
the  second.  Accordingly,  I  went  to  work  very  hard,  both  in  play 
and  in  earnest,  and  gained  great  commendation.  And,  in  a  very 
little  while,  the  Murdstone  and  Grinby  life  became  so  strange  to  me 
that  I  hardly  believed  in  it,  while  my  present  life  grew  so  familiar, 
tliat  I  seemed  to  have  been  leadinof  it  a  lon«r  time. 

Doctor  Strong's  w;is  an  excellent  school ;  as  different  from  Mr. 
Creakle's  as  good  is  fi*om  evil.  It  was  very  gravely  and  decorously 
ordered,  and  on  a  sound  system ;  with  an  appeal,  in  everything,  to 
the  honour  and  good  faith  of  the  boys,  and  an  avowed  intention  to 
rely  on  their  possession  of  those  quahties  unless  they  proved  them- 
selves unworthy  of  it,  which  worked  wonders.  We  all  felt  that  we 
had  a  part  in  the  management  of  the  place,  and  in  sustaining  its 
character  and  dignity.  Hence,  we  soon  became  warmly  attached  to 
it — I  am  sure  I  did  for  one,  and  I  never  knew,  in  all  my  time,  of 
any  other  boy  being  otherwise — and  learnt  with  a  good  ^^^ll,  desiring 
to  do  it  credit.  We  had  noble  games  out  of  hours,  and  plenty  of 
Hberty ;  but  even  then,  as  I  remember,  we  were  well  spoken  of  in 
the  town,  and  rarely  did  any  disgrace,  by  our  appearance  or  man- 
ner, to  the  reputation  of  Doctor  Strong  and  Doctor  Strong's  boys. 

Some  of  the  higher  scholars  boarded  in  the  Doctor's  house,  and 
through  them  I  learnt,  at  second  hand,  some  particulars  of  the 
Doctor's  history — as  how  he  had  not  yet  been  married  twelve 
months  to  the  beautiful  young  lady  I  had  seen  in  the  study,  whom 
he  had  married  for  love;  as  she  had  not  a  sixpence,  and  had  a 
world  of  poor  relations  (so  our  fellows  said)  ready  to  swarm  the 
Doctor  out  of  house  and  home.  Also,  how  the  Doctor's  cogiUiting 
manner  was  attributable  to  his  being  always  engaged  in  looking  out 
for  Greek  roots  ;  which,  in  my  innocence  and  ignorance,  I  supposed 
to  be  a  botanical  furor  on  the  Doctor's  part,  especially  as  he  always 
looked  at  the  ground  when  he  walked  about — until  I  understood 
that  they  W(;re   roots   of  words,  with   a  view  to   a  new  Dictionary, 


282  DAVID     COPTERFIELD. 

whicli  he  had  in  contemplation.  Adams,  our  head-boy,  who  had  a 
turn  for  mathematics,  had  made  a  calculation,  I  was  informed,  of  the 
time  this  Dictionary  would  take  in  completing,  on  the  Doctor's  plan, 
and  at  the  Doctor's  i-ate  of  going.  He  considered  that  it  might  be 
done  in  one  thousand  six  hundred  and  forty-nine  years,  counting 
fi'om  the  Doctor's  last,  or  sixty-second,  birthday. 

But  the  Doctor  himself  was  the  idol  of  the  whole  school ;  and  it 
must  have  been  a  badly  composed  school  if  he  had  been  anything 
else,  for  he  was  the  kindest  of  men  ;  with  a  simple  faith  in  him  that 
might  have  touched  the  stone  hearts  of  the  very  urns  upon  the  wall. 
As  he  walked  up  and  down  that  part  of  the  court-yard  which  was  at 
the  side  of  the  house,  with  the  stray  rooks  and  jackdaws  looking 
after  him  with  their  heads  cocked  slyly,  as  if  they  knew  how  much 
more  knowing  they  were  in  worldly  affairs  than  he,  if  any  sort  of 
vagabond  could  only  get  near  enough  to  his  creaking  shoes  to 
attract  his  attention  to  one  sentence  of  a  tale  of  distress,  that  vaga- 
bond was  made  for  the  next  two  days.  It  was  so  notorious  in  the 
house,  that  the  masters  and  head-boys  took  pains  to  cut  these  marau- 
ders off  at  angles,  and  to  get  out  of  windows,  to  turn  them  out  of 
the  court-yard,  before  they  could  make  the  Doctor  aware  of  their 
presence  ;  which  was  sometimes  happily  effected  within  a  few  yards 
of  him,  without  his  knowing  anything  of  the  matter,  as  he  jogged  to 
and  fro.  Outside  his  own  domain,  and  unprotected,  he  was  a  very 
sheep  for  the  shearers.  He  would  have  taken  his  gaiters  off  his  legs, 
to  give  away.  In  fact,  there  was  a  story  current  among  us  (I  have 
no  idea,  and  never  had,  on  what  authority,  but  I  have  believed  it  for 
so  many  years  that  I  feel  quite  certain  it  is  true),  that  on  a  frosty 
day,  one  winter  time,  he  actually  did  bestow  his  gaiters  on  a  beggar- 
woman,  who  occasioned  some  scandal  in  the  neighbourhood  by  ex- 
hibiting a  fine  infant  from  door  to  door,  vsrapped  in  those  garments, 
which  were  universally  recognised,  being  as  well  known  in  the 
vicinity  as  the  Cathedral.  The  legend  added  that  the  only  person 
who  did  not  identify  them  was  the  Doctor  himself,  who,  when  they 
were  shortly  afterwards  displayed  at  the  door  of  a  little  second-hand 
shop  of  no  very  good  repute,  where  such  things  were  taken  in  ex- 
change for  gin,  was  more  than  once  observed  to  handle  them  ap- 
provingly, as  if  admiring  some  curious  novelty  in  the  pattern,  and 
considering  them  an  improvement  on  his  own. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  283 

It  was  very  pleasant  to  see  the  Doctor  with  his  pretty  young  wife. 
He  had  a  fatherly,  benignant  way  of  showing  his  fondness  for  her, 
vhieh  seemed  in  itself  to  express  a  good  man.  I  often  saw  them 
walking  in  the  garden  where  the  peaches  were,  and  I  sometimes  had 
a  nearer  observation  of  them  in  the  study  or  the  parlor.  She  ap- 
peared to  me  to  take  great  care  of  the  Doctor,  and  to  like  him  very 
much,  though  I  never  thought  her  vitally  interested  in  the 
Dictionary  :  some  cumbrous  fragments  of  which  work  the  Doctor 
always  carried  in  his  pockets,  and  in  the  hning  of  his  hat,  and  generally 
seemed  to  be  expounding  to  her  as  they  walked  about. 

I  saw  a  good  deal  of  Mrs.  Strong,  both  because  she  had  taken  a 
liking  for  me  on  the  morning  of  my  introduction  to  the  Doctor,  and 
was  always  afterwards  kind  to  me,  and  interested  in  me ;  and  be- 
cause she  was  very  fond  of  Agnes,  and  was  often  backwards  and  for- 
wards at  our  house.  There  was  a  curious  constraint  between  her 
and  Mr.  Wickfield,  I  thought  (of  whom  she  seemed  to  be  afi-aid), 
that  never  wore  oft*.  When  she  came  there  of  an  eveninof,  she  al- 
ways  shrunk  from  accepting  his  escort  home,  and  ran  away  with  me 
instead.  And  sometimes,  as  we  were  running  gaily  across  the 
Cathedral  yard  together,  expecting  to  meet  nobody,  we  would  meet 
Mr.  Jack  Maldon,  who  was  always  surprised  to  see  us. 

Mrs.  Strong's  mama  was  a  lady  I  took  great  delight  in.  Her 
name  was  Mrs.  Markleham ;  but  our  boys  used  to  call  her  the  Old 
Soldier,  on  account  of  her  generalship,  and  the  skill  with  which  she 
marshalled  great  forces  of  relations  against  the  Doctor.  She  was  a 
little,  sharp-eyed  woman,  who  used  to  wear,  when  she  was  dressed, 
one  unchangeable  cap,  ornamented  with  some  artificial  flowers,  and 
two  artificial  butterflies  supposed  to  be  hovering  above  the  flowers. 
There  was  a  superstition  among  us  that  this  cap  had  come  from 
France,  and  could  only  originate  in  the  workmanship  of  that  ingeni- 
ous nation  :  but  all  I  certainly  know  about  it,  is,  that  it  always  made 
its  appearance  of  an  evening,  wheresoever  Mrs.  Markleham  made  her 
appearance  ;  that  it  was  carried  about  to  friendly  meetings  in  a  Hin- 
doo basket ;  that  the  butterflies  had  the  gift  of  trembling  constantly ; 
and  that  they  improved  the  shining  hours  at  Doctor  Strong's  ex- 
pense, like  busy  bees. 

I  observed  the  Old  Soldier — not  to  adopt  the  name  disrospectfrilly 


284  DAVID     COPPEKFiELD. 

— to  pretty  good  advantage,  on  a  night  whicla  is  made  memorable 
to  me  by  something  else  I  shall  relate.  It  was  the  night  of  a  little 
party  at  the  Doctor's,  which  was  given  on  the  occasion  of  Mr.  Jack 
Maldon's  departure  for  India,  whither  he  was  going  as  a  cadet,  or 
something  of  that  kind :  Mr.  Wickfield  having  at  length  arrarged 
the  business.  It  happened  to  be  the  Doctor's  birthday,  too.  We 
had  a  holiday,  had  made  presents  to  him  in  the  morning,  had  made 
a  speech  to  him  through  the  head-boy,  and  had  cheered  him  until 
we  were  hoarse,  and  until  he  had  shed  tears.  And  now,  in  the 
evening,  Mr.  Wickfield,  Agnes,  and  I,  w^ent  to  have  tea  with  him  in 
his  private  capacity. 

Mr.  Jack  Maldon  was  there,  before  us.  Mrs.  Strong,  dressed  in 
white,  wdth  cherry-colored  ribbons,  was  playing  the  piano,  when  we 
wTnt  in  ;  and  he  was  leaning  over  her  to  turn  the  leaves.  The  clear 
red  and  white  of  her  complexion  w^as  not  so  blooming  and  flow^er-like 
as  usual,  I  thought,  when  she  turned  round ;  but  she  looked  very 
pretty,  wonderfully  pretty. 

"  I  have  forgotten,  Doctor,"  said  Mrs.  Strong's  mama,  when  we 
were  seated,  "  to  pay  you  the  compliments  of  the  day — though  they 
are,  as  you  may  suppose,  very  far  from  being  mere  compliments  in 
my  case.     Allow  me  to  wish  you  many  happy  returns." 

"  I  thank  you,  ma'am,"  replied  the  Doctor. 

"  Many,  many,  many,  happy  returns,"  said  the  Old  Soldier.  "  Not 
only  for  your  own  sake,  but  for  Annie's,  and  John  Maldon's,  and 
many  other  people's.  It  seems  but  yesterday  to  me,  John,  when  you 
were  a  little  creature,  a  head  shorter  than  Master  Copperfield,  mak- 
ing baby-love  to  Annie  behind  the  gooseberry  bushes  in  the  back- 
garden." 

"  My  dear  mama,"  said  Mrs.  Strong,  "  never  mind  that  now." 

"  Annie,  don't  be  absurd,"  returned  her  mother.  "  If  you  are  to 
blush  to  hear  of  such  things,  now  you  are  an  old  married  woman, 
when  are  you  not  to  blush  to  hear  of  them  ?" 

"  Old  ?"  exclaimed  Mr.  Jack  Maldon.     "  Annie  ?  Come  !" 

"  Yes,  John,"  returned  the  Soldier.  "  Virtually,  an  old  married 
woman.  Although  not  old  by  years — for  when  did  you  ever  hear 
me  say,  or  who  has  ever  heard  me  say,  that  a  girl  of  twenty  was  old 
by  years  ! — ^your  cousin  is  the  wife  of  the  Doctor,  and,  as  such,  what 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  285 

I  have  described  her.  It  is  well  for  you,  John,  that  your  cousin  ta 
tlie  wife  of  the  Doctor.  You  have  found  in  him  an  influential  and 
kind  friend,  who  will  be  kinder  yet,  I  venture  to  predict,  if  you  de- 
serve it.  I  have  no  false  pride.  I  never  hesitate  to  admit,  frankly, 
that  there  are  some  members  of  our  family  who  want  a  friend.  You 
were  one  yourself,  before  your  cousin's  influence  raised  up  one  for 
you." 

The  Doctor,  in  the  goodness  of  his  heart,  waved  his  hand  as  if  to 
make  hght  of  it,  and  save  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  from  any  further  re- 
minder. But  Mrs.  Markleham  changed  her  chair  for  one  next  the 
Doctor's,  and  putting  her  fan  on  his  coat-sleeve,  said : 

"  No,  really,  my  dear  Doctor,  you  must  excuse  me  if  I  appear  to 
dwell  on  this  rather,  because  I  feel  so  very  strongly.  I  call  it  quite 
my  monomania,  it  is  such  a  subject  of  mine.  You  are  a  blessing  to 
us.     You  really  are  a  Boon,  you  know." 

"  Nonsense,  nonsense,"  said  the  Doctor. 

"  No,  no,.  I  beg  your  pardon,"  retorted  the  Old  Soldier.  "  With 
nobody  present,  but  our  dear  and  confidential  friend  Mr.  Wickfield, 
I  cannot  consent  to  be  put  down.  I  shrjl  beg-in  to  assert  the  prin- 
leges  of  a  mother-in-law,  if  you  go  on  like  that,  and  scold  you.  I  ara 
perfectly  honest  and  out-spoken.  What  I  am  saying,  is  what  I  said 
when  you  fii-st  overpowered  me  with  surpiise — you  remember  how 
surprised  I  was  ? — by  proposing  for  Annie.  Not  that  there  was  any- 
thing so  very  much  out  of  the  way,  in  the  mere  act  of  the  proposal 
— it  would  be  ridiculous  to  say  that ! — but  because,  you  having 
known  her  poor  father,  and  having  known  her  from  a  baby  six 
months  old,  I  hadn't  thought  of  you  in  such  a  light  at  all,  or  indeed 
as  a  marrying  man  in  any  way, — simply  that,  you  know." 

"  Aye,  aye,"  returned  the  Doctor,  good-humoredly.  "  Never 
mind." 

"  But  I  do  mind,"  said  the  Old  Soldier,  laying  her  fan  upon  his 
lips.  "  I  mind  very  much.  I  recal  these  things  that  I  may  be  con- 
tradicted if  I  am  wrong.  Well !  Then  I  spoke  to  Annie,  and  I  told 
her  what  had  happened.  I  said,  '  My  dear,  here's  Doctor  Strong  has 
positively  been  and  made  you  the  subject  of  a  handsome  declaration 
and  an  offer.'  Did  I  press  it  in  the  le;ist  ?  No.  I  said,  '  Now, 
Annie,  tell  me  the  truth  this  moment ;  is  your  heart  free  V    '  Mama, 


286  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

she  said,  crying,  *  I  am  extremely  young' — which  was  perfectly  inie 
— '  and  I  hardly  know  if  I  have  a  heart  at  all.'  '  Then,  my  dear,'  I 
said,  '  you  may  rely  upon  it,  it's  free.'  'At  all  events,  my  love,'  said  I, 
*  Doctor  Strong  is  in  an  agitated  state  of  mind,  and  must  be  answered. 
He  cannot  be  kept  in  his  present  state  of  suspense.'  *  Mama,'  said 
Annie,  still  crying, '  would  he  be  unhappy  without  me  ?  If  he  would, 
I  honor  and  respect  him  so  much,  that  I  think  I  will  have  him.'  So 
it  was  settled.  And  then,  and  not  till  then,  I  said  to  Annie, '  Annie, 
Doctor  Strong  will  not  only  be  your  husband,  but  he  will  represent 
your  late  father :  he  will  represent  the  head  of  our  family,  he  will 
represent  the  wisdom  and  station,  and  I  may  say  the  means,  of  our 
family ;  and  will  be,  in  short,  a  Boon  to  it.'  I  used  the  word  at  the 
time,  and  I  have  used  it  again,  to-day.  If  I  have  any  merit,  it  is 
consistency." 

The  daughter  had  sat  quite  silent  and  still  during  this  speech,  with 
her  eyes  fixed  on  the  ground ;  her  cousin  standing  near  her,  and 
looking  on  the  ground  too.  She  now  said  very  softly,  in  a  trembhng 
voice : 

"  Mama,  I  hope  you  have  finished  ?" 

"  No,  my  dear  Annie,''  returned  the  Soldier,  "  I  have  not  quite 
finished.  Since  you  ask  me,  my  love,  I  reply  that  I  have  7iot.  I 
complain  that  you  really  are  a  httle  unnatural  towards  your  own 
family ;  and,  as  it  is  of  no  use  complaining  to  you,  I  mean  to  com- 
plain to  your  husband.  Now,  my  dear  Doctor,  do  look  at  that  silly 
wife  of  yours." 

As  the  Doctor  turned  his  kind  face,  with  its  smile  of  simplicity  and 
gentleness,  towards  her,  she  drooped  her  head  more.  I  noticed  that 
Mr.  Wickfiftld  looked  at  her  steadily. 

"  When  I  happened  to  say  to  that  naughty  thing,  the  other  day,'* 
pursued  her  mother,  shaking  her  head  and  her  fan  at  her,  playfully, 
"  that  there  was  a  family  circumstance  she  might  mention  to  you — • 
indeed,  I  think,  was  bound  to  mention — 'she  said,  that  to  mention  it 
was  to  ask  a  favor  ;  and  that,  as  you  were  too  generous,  and  as  foi 
her  to  ask  was  always  to  have,  she  wouldn't." 

"  Annie,  my  dear,"  said  the  Doctor.  "  That  was  wrong.  It  rob- 
bed me  of  a  pleasure." 

"  Almost  the  very  words  I  said  to  her  !"  exclaimed  her  mother. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  287 

**  Now  really,  anotlier  time,  when  I  know  what  she  would  tell  you 
but  for  this  reason,  and  won't,  I  have  a  great  mind,  my  dear  Doctor, 
to  tell  you  myself." 

"  I  shall  be  glad  if  you  will,"  retm-ned  the  Doctor. 

"Shall  I?" 

"Certainly." 

"  Well,  then,  I  will !"  said  the  Old  Soldier.  "That's  a  bargain." 
And  having,  I  suj^pose,  carried  her  point,  she  tapped  the  Doctor's 
hand  several  times  with  her  fan  (which  she  kissed  first),  and  return- 
ed triumphantly  to  her  former  station. 

Some  more  company  coming  in,  among  whom  were  the  two  mas- 
ters and  Adams,  the  talk  became  general;  and  it  naturally  turned 
on  Mr.  Jack  Maldon,  and  the  voyage,  and  the  country  he  was  going 
to,  and  his  various  plans  and  prospects.  He  was  to  leave  that  night, 
after  supper,  in  a  postchaise,  for  Gravesend ;  where  the  ship,  in 
which  he  was  to  make  the  voyage,  lay ;  and  was  to  be  gone — unless 
he  came  home  on  leave,  or  for  his  health — I  don't  know  how  many 
years.  I  recollect  it  was  settled  by  general  consent  that  India  was 
quite  a  misrepresented  country,  and  had  nothing  objectionable  in  it, 
but  a  tiger  or  two,  and  a  little  heat  in  the  warm  part  of  the  day. 
For  my  own  part,  I  looked  on  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  as  a  modern  Sinbad, 
and  pictured  him  the  bosom  friend  of  all  the  Rajahs  in  the  east,  sit- 
ting under  canopies,  smoking  curly  golden  pipes — a  mile  long,  if 
they  could  be  straightened  out. 

Mrs.  Strong  was  a  very  pretty  singer  ;  as  I  knew,  who  often  heard 
her  singing  by  herself.  But  whether  she  was  afiaid  of  singing  be 
fore  people,  or  was  out  of  voice  that  evening,  it  was  certain  that  she 
couldn't  sing  at  all.  She  tried  a  duet,  once,  with  her  cousin  Maldon, 
but  could  not  so  much  as  begin  ;  and  afterwards,  when  she  tried  to 
sing  by  herself,  although  she  began  sweetly,  her  voice  died  away  on 
a  sudden,  and  left  her  quite  distressed,  with  her  head  hanging  down 
over  the  keys.  The  good  Doctor  said  she  was  nervous,  and,  to  re- 
lieve her,  proposed  a  round  game  at  cards ;  of  which  he  knew  as 
much  as  of  the  art  of  playing  the  trombone.  But  I  remarked  that 
the  Old  Soldier  took  him  into  custody  directly,  for  her  partner ;  and 
instructed  him,  as  the  fii'st  j)relirainary  of  initiation,  to  give  her  all 
the  silver  he  had  in  his  pocket. 


288  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

We  had  a  merry  game,  not  made  the  less  merry  by  the  Doctor's 
mistakes,  of  which  he  committed  an  innumerable  quantity,  in  spite 
of  the  watchfulness  of  the  butterflies,  and  to  their  ffreat  asfffravation. 
Mrs.  Strong  had  declined  to  play,  on  the  ground  of  not  feelmg  very 
well ;  and  her  cousin  Maldpn  had  excused  himself  because  he  had 
some  jDacking  to  do.  When  he  had  done  it,  however,  he  returned, 
and  they  sat  together,  talking,  on  the  sofa.  From  time  to  time  she 
came  and  looked  over  the  Doctor's  hand,  and  told  him  what  to  play. 
She  was  very  pale,  as  she  bent  over  him,  and  I  thought  her  finger 
trembled  as  she  pointed  out  the  cards ;  but  the  Doctor  was  quite 
happy  in  her  attention,  and  took  no  notice  of  this,  if  it  were  so. 

At  supper,  we  were  hardly  so  gay.  Every  one  appeared  to  feel 
that  a  parting  of  that  sort  was  an  awkward  thing,  and  that  the 
nearer  it  approached,  the  more  awkward  it  was.  Mr.  Jack  Maldou 
tried  to  be  very  talkative,  but  was  not  at  his  ease,  and  made  matters 
worse.  And  they  were  not  improved,  as  it  appeared  to  me,  by  the  Old 
Soldier :  who  continually  recalled  passages  of  Mr.  Jack  Maldon's  youth. 

The  Doctor,  however,  who  felt,  I  am  sure,  that  he  was  making 
everybody  happy,  was  well  pleased,  and  had  no  suspicion,  but  that 
we  were  all  at  tlie  utmost  height  of  enjoyment. 

"  Annie,  my  dear,"  said  he,  looking  at  his  watch,  and  filHng  his 
glass,  "  it  is  past  your  cousin  Jack's  time,  and  we  must  not  detain 
him,  since  time  and  tide — both  concerned  in  this  case — wait  for  no 
man.  Mr.  Jack  Maldon,  you  have  a  long  voyage,  and  a  strange 
country  before  you ;  but  many  men  have  had  both,  and  many  men 
will  have  both,  to  the  end  of  time.  The  winds  you  are  going  to  tempt, 
have  wafted  thousands  upon  thousands  to  fortune,  and  brought  thou- 
sands upon  thousands  happily  back." 

"  It  is  an  affecting  thing,"  said  Mrs.  Markleham — "  however  it's 
viewed,  it's  affecting — to  see  a  fine  young  man  one  has  known  from 
an  infant,  going  away  to  the  other  end  of  the  world,  leaving  all  he 
knows  behind,  and  not  knowing  what's  before  him.  A  young  man 
really  well  deserves  constant  support  and  patronage,"  looking  at  the 
Doctor,  "  who  makes  such  sacrifices." 

"  Time  will  go  fast  with  you,  Mr.  Jack  Maldon,"  pursued  the  Doc- 
tor, "  and  fast  with  all  of  us.  Some  of  us  can  hardly  expect,  per- 
liaps,  in  the  natural  course  of  things,  to  greet  you  on  your  return. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  289 

The  next  best  thing  is  to  hope  to  do  it,  and  that's  my  case,  I  shall 
not  weary  you  with  good  advice.  You  have  long  had  a  good  modc-l 
before  you,  in  your  cousin  Annie.  Imiti.te  her  virtues  as  nearly  as 
you  can." 

Mrs.  Markleham  fanned  herself,  and  shook  her  head. 

"  Farewell,  Mr.  Jack,"  said  the  Doctor,  standing  up ;  on  which  we 
all  stood  up.  "  A  prosperous  voyage  out,  a  thriving  career  abroad, 
and  a  happy  return  home  !" 

We  all  drank  the  toast,  and  all  shook  hands  with  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  ; 
after  which  he  hastily  took  leave  of  the  ladies  who  were  there,  and 
hunied  to  the  door,  where  he  was  received,  as  he  got  into  the  chaise, 
with  a  tremendous  broadside  of  cheers  discharged  by  our  boys,  who 
had  assembled  on  the  lawn  for  the  pui'pose.  Running  in  among 
them  to  swell  the  ranks,  I  was  very  near  the  chaise  when  it  rolled 
away  ;  and  I  had  a  Hvely  impression  made  upon  me,  in  the  midst 
of  the  noise  and  dust,  of  having  seen  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  rattle  past 
with  an  agitated  face,  and  something  cherry-colored  in  his  hand. 

After  another  broadside  for  the  Doctor,  and  another  for  the  Doc- 
tor's \N-ife,  the  boys  dispersed,  and  I  went  back  into  the  house,  where 
I  found  the  guests  all  standing  in  a  group  about  the  Doctor,  dis- 
cussing how  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  had  gone  away,  and  how  he  had 
borne  it,  and  how  he  had  felt  it,  and  all  the  rest  of  it.  In  the  midst 
of  these  remarks,  Mrs.  Markleham  cried  :  "  "VMiere's  Annie  ?" 

No  Annie  was  there ;  and  when  they  called  to  her,  no  Annie 
repHed.  But  all  pressing  out  of  the  room,  in  a  crowd,  to  see  what 
was  the  matter,  we  found  her  lying  on  the  hall  floor.  There 
was  great  alarm  at  first,  until  it  was  found  that  she  was  in  a  swoon, 
and  that  the  swoon  was  yielding  to  the  usual  means  of  recovery ; 
when  the  Doctor,  who  had  lifted  her  head  upon  his  knee,  put  her 
curls  aside  with  his  hand,  and  said,  looking  around : 

"  Poor  Annie  !  She's  so  faithful  and  tender-hearted  !  It's  the 
parting  from  her  old  playfellow  and  friend — her  favorite  cousin — 
that  has  done  this.     Ah  !  It's  a  pity  !    I  am  very  sorry  !" 

When  she  opened  her  eyes,  and  saw  where  she  was,  and  that  we 

were  all  standing  about  her,  she  arose  with  a^y^istance :  turning  her 

head,  as  she  did  so,  to  lay  it  on  the  Doctor's  shoulder — or  to  hide 

It,  I  don't  know  which.     We  went  into  the  drawing-room,  tc   leave 

18 


290  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

her  with  the  Doctor  and  her  mother ;  but  she  said,  it  seemed,  that 
she  was  better  than  she  had  been  since  morning,  and  tliat  she  would 
rather  be  brought  among  us ;  so  they  brought  her  in,  looking  very 
white  and  weak,  I  thought,  and  sat  her  on  a  sofa. 

"  Annie,  my  dear,"  said  her  mother,  doing  something  to  her  dress, 
"  See  here  !  You  have  lost  a  bow.  Will  any  body  be  so  good  as 
find  a  ribbon  ;  a  cherry-colored  ribbon  ?" 

It  was  the  one  she  had  worn  at  her  bosom.  We  all  looked  for 
it — I  myself  looked  everywhere,  I  am  certain — but  nobody  could 
find  it. 

"  Do  you  recollect  where  you  had  it  last,  Annie  ?"  said  her  mother. 

I  wondered  how  I  could  have  thought  she  looked  white,  or  any- 
thing but  burning  red,  when  she  answered  that  she  had  had  it  safe, 
a  little  while  ago,  she  thought,  but  it  was  not  worth  looking  for. 

Nevertheless,  it  was  looked  for  again,  and  still  not  found.  She 
entreated  that  there  might  be  no  more  searching ;  but  it  was  still 
sought  for,  in  a  desultory  way,  until  she  was  quite  well,  and  the 
company  took  their  departure. 

We  walked  very  slowly  home,  Mr.  Wickfield,  Agnes,  and  I — 
Agnes  and  I  admiring  the  moonlight,  and  Mr.  Wickfield  scarcely 
raising  his  eyes  from  the  ground.  When  we,  at  last,  reached  our 
own  door,  Agnes  discovered  that  she  had  left  her  little  reticule 
behind.     Delighted  to  be  of  any  service  to  her,  I  ran  back  to  fetch  it. 

I  went  into  the  supper-room,  where  it  had  been  left,  which  w^is 
deserted  and  dark.  But  a  door-  of  communication  between  that  and 
the  Doctor's  study,  where  there  was  a  light,  being  open,  I  passed  on 
there,  to  say  what  I  wanted,  and  to  get  a  candle. 

The  Doctor  was  sitting  in  his  easy  chair  by  the  fireside,  and  his 
f  oung  wife  was  on  a  stool  at  his  feet.  The  Doctor,  with  a  compla- 
cent smile,  was  reading  aloud  some  manuscript  explanation  or  state- 
ment of  a  theory  out  of  that  interminable  Dictionary,  and  she  was 
looking  up  at  him.  But  with  such  a  face  as  I  never  saw.  It  was  so 
beautiful  in  its  form,  it  was  so  ashy  pale,  it  was  so  fixed  in  its 
abstraction,  it  was  so  full  of  a  wild,  sleep-walking,  dreamy  horror  of 
I  don't  know  what.  The  eyes  were  wide  open,  and  her  brown  haii 
fell  in  two  rich  clusters  on  her  shoulders,  and  on  her  white  dress, 
disordered  by  the  want  of  the  lost  ribbon,     Distinctly  9s  I  recollect 


I  returu  to  the  Doctor's  after  tliu  Tuity. 


LIBRARY 

OF  THE 

L.;iVtaSITY  OF  ILUN  i 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  291 

her  look,  I  cannot  say  of  what  it  was  expressive.  I  cannot  even  say 
of  what  it  is  expressive  to  me  now,  rising  again  before  my  older 
judgment.  Penitence,  humiliation,  shame,  pride,  love,  and  trustful- 
ness— I  see  them  all ;  and  in  them  all,  I  see  that  horror  of  I  don't 
know  what. 

My  entrance,  and  my  saying  what  I  wanted,  roused  her.  It 
disturbed  the  Doctor  too,  for  when  I  went  back  to  replace  the  candle 
I  had  taken  from  the  table,  he  was  patting  her  head,  in  his  fatherly 
way,  and  sapng  he  was  a  merciless  drone  to  let  her  tempt  him  into 
reading  on ;  and  he  would  have  her  go  to  bed. 

But  she  asked  him,  in  a  rapid,  urgent  manner,  to  let  her  stay — to 
let  her  feel  assured  (I  heard  her  murmur  some  broken  words  to 
this  effect)  that  she  was  in  his  confidence  that  night.  And,  as  she 
turned  again  towards  him,  after  glancing  at  me  as  I  left  the  room 
and  went  out  at  the  door,  I  saw  her  cross  her  hands  upon  his  knee, 
and  look  up  at  him  with  the  same  face,  something  quieted,  as  he 
resumed  his  reading. 

It  made  a  great  impression  on  me,  and  I  remembered  it  a  long 
time  afterwards ;  as  I  shall  have  occasion  to  narrate  when  the  time 
comes. 


CHAPTER   XVII. 

SOMEBODY  TURNS  UP. 

It  has  not  occurred  to  me  to  mention  Peggotty  since  I  ran  away; 
but,  of  course,  I  wrote  her  a  letter  almost  as  soon  as  I  was  housed  at 
Dover,  and  another,  and  a  longer  letter,  containing  all  particulars 
fully  related,  when  my  aunt  took  me  formally  under  her  protection. 
On  my  being  settled  at  Doctor  Strong's  I  wrote  to  her  again,  detailing 
my  happy  condition  and  prospects.  I  never  could  have  derived  any 
thing  hke  the  pleasure  from  spending  the  money  Mr.  Dick  had 
given  me,  that  I  felt  in  sending  a  gold  half-guin«'a  to  Peggotty,  per 
Dost,  inclosed  in  this  last  letter,  to  discharge  the  sum  I  had  borrowed 
of  her:  in  which  epistle,  not  before,  I  mentioned 'about  the  young 
mail  with  the  donkey-cart. 


292  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

To  these  communications  Peggotty  replied  as  promptly,  if  not  as 
concisely,  as  a  merchant's  clerk.  Her  utmost  powers  of  expression 
(which  were  certainly  not  great  in  ink)  were  exhausted  in  the  attem[>t 
to  write  what  she  felt  on  the  subject  of  my  journey.  Four  sides  of 
incoherent  and  interjection al  beginnings  of  sentences,  that  had  no 
end,  except  blots,  were  inadequate  to  afford  her  any  rehef.  But  the 
blots  were  more  expressive  to  me  than  the  best  composition,  for  they 
showed  me  that  Peggotty  had  been  crying  all  over  the  paper,  and 
what  could  I  have  desired  more  ? 

I  made  out,  without  much  difficulty,  that  she  could  not  take  quite 
kindly  to  my  aunt  yet.  The  notice  w^as  too  short  after  so  long  a 
prepossession  the  other  way.  We  never  knew  a  person,  she  wrote  ; 
but  to  think  that  Miss  Betsey  should  seem  to  be  so  different  from 
what  she  had  been  thought  to  be,  was  a  Moral ! — that  was  her  word. 
She  was  evidently  still  afraid  of  Miss  Betsey,  for  she  sent  her  grate- 
ful duty  to  her  but  timidly ;  and  she  was  evidently  afraid  of  me, 
too,  and  entertained  the  probability  of  my  running  away  again  soon : 
if  I  might  judge  fi'om  the  repeated  hints  she  threw  out,  that  the 
coach-fare  to  Yarmouth  was  always  to  be  had  of  her  for  the  asking. 

She  gave  me  one  piece  of  intelligence  which  affected  me  very 
much,  namely,  that  there  had  been  a  sale  of  the  furniture  at  our  old 
home,  and  that  Mr.  and  Miss  Murdstone  were  gone  away,  and  the 
house  was  shut  up,  to  be  let  or  sold.  God  knows  I  had  had  no  part  in 
it  while  they  remained  there,  but  it  pained  me  to  think  of  the  dear 
old  place  as  altogether  abandoned ;  of  the  weeds  growing  tall  in  the 
garden,  and  the  fallen  leaves  lying  thick  and  wet  upon  the  paths. 
I  imaa'ined  how  the  winds  of  winter  would  howl  round  it,  how  the 
cold  rain  would  beat  upon  the  window-glass,  how  the  moon  would 
make  ghosts  on  the  walls  of  the  empty  rooms,  watching  their  soU- 
tude  all  night.  I  thought  afresh  of  the  grave  in  the  churchyard, 
underneath  the  tree :  and  it  seemed  as  if  the  house  were  dead  too, 
now,  and  all  connected  with  my  father  and  mother  were  faded  away. 

There  was  no  other  news  in  Peggotty's  letter.  Mr.  Barkis  was 
an  excellent  husband,  she  said,  though  still  a  little  near  ;  but  we  all 
had  our  faults,  and  she  had  plenty  (though  I  am  sure  I  don't  know 
<vhat  they  were) ;  and  he  sent  his  duty,  and  my  little  bedroom  was 
always  ready  for  me.      Mr.  Peggotty  was  well,  and  Ham  was  well, 


DAVID    COrrEUFIELD.  293 

and  Mrs.  Gummidge  was  but  poorly,  and  little  Em'ly  wouldn't  send 
her  love,  but  said  that  Peggotty  might  send  it,  if  she  liked. 

All  this  intelligence  I  dutifully  ini])arted  to  my  aunt,  only  reserv- 
ing to  myself  the  mention  of  little  Em'ly,  to  whom  I  instinctively 
felt  that  she  would  not  very  tenderly  incline.  While  I  was  yet  new 
at  Doctor  Strong's,  she  made  several  excursions  over  to  Canterbury 
to  see  me,  and  always  at  unseasonable  hours  :  with  the  N-iew,  I  sup- 
pose, of  taking  me  by  surprise.  But,  finding  me  well  employed,  and 
bearing  a  good  character,  and  hearing  on  all  hands  that  I  rose  fast 
in  the  school,  she  soon  discontinued  these  visits.  I  saw  her  on  a 
Saturday,  every  third  or  fourth  week,  when  I  went  over  to  Dover 
for  a  treat ;  and  I  saw  Mr.  Dick  every  alternate  Wednesday,  when 
he  arrived  by  stage-coach  at  noon,  to  stay  until  next  morning. 

On  these  occasions  Mr.  Dick  never  travelled  without  a  leathern 
writing-desk,  containing  a  supply  of  stationery  and  the  Memorial ; 
in  relation  to  which  document  he  had  a  notion  that  time  was  begin 
ning  to  press  now,  and  that  it  really  must  be  got  out  of  hand. 

Mr.  Dick  was  very  partial  to  gingerbread.  To  render  his  visits 
the  more  agreeable,  my  aunt  had  instructed  me  to  open  a  credit  for 
him  at  a  cake-shop,  which  was  hampered  with  the  stipulation  that 
he  should  not  be  served  with  more  than  one  shilling's-worth  in  the 
course  of  any  one  day.  This,  and  the  reference  of  all  his  little  bills 
at  the  county  inn  where  he  slept,  to  my  aunt,  before  they  were  paid, 
induced  me  to  suspect  that  he  was  only  allowed  to  rattle  his  money, 
and  not  to  spend  it.  I  found  on  further  investigation  that  this  was 
so,  or  at  least  there  was  an  agreement  between  him  and  my  aunt 
that  he  should  account  to  her  for  all  his  disbursements.  As  he  had 
no  idea  of  deceiving  her,  and  always  desired  to  please  her,  he  was 
thus  made  chary  of  launching  into  expense.  On  this  point,  as  well 
as  on  all  other  possible  points,  Mr.  Dick  was  convinced  that  my  aunt 
was  the  wisest  and  most  wonderful  of  women  ;  as  he  repeatedly  told 
me  with  infinite  secresy,  and  always  in  a  whisper. 

"  Trotwood,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  with  an  air  of  mystery,  after  impart 
ing  this  confidence  to  me,  one  Wednesday  ;  "  who's  the  man  that 
hides  near  our  house  and  iVitrhteus  her  ?" 

"  Frightens  my  aunt,  sir  ?" 

Mr.  Dick  nodded.     "  I  thought  nothing  would  have  friglitened 


294  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

lier,"  he  said,  "  for  she's — "  here  he  whispered  softly,  "  don't  men- 
tion it — ^the  wisest  and  most  wonderful  of  women."  Having  said 
which,  he  drew  back,  to  observe  the  effect  which  this  description  of 
her  made  upon  me. 

"  The  first  time  he  came,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  "  was — let  me  see — 
sixteen  hundred  and  forty-nine  was  the  date  of  King  Charles's 
execution.     I  think  you  said  sixteen  hundred  and  forty-nine  ?" 

"Yes,  sir." 

"I  don't  know  how  it  can  be,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  sorely  puzzled  and 
shaking  his  head.     "  I  don't  think  I'm  as  old  as  that." 

"  Was  it  in  that  year  that  the  man  appeared,  sir  ?"  I  asked. 

"  Why,  really,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  "  I  don't  see  how  it  can  have  been 
in  that  year,  Ti-otwood.     Do  you  get  that  date  out  of  history  ?" 

"Yes,  sir." 

"  I  supjpose  history  never  Hes,  does  it  ?"  said  Mr.  Dick,  with  a 
gleam  of  hope. 

"  O  dear,  no,  sir !  "  I  replied,  most  decisively.  I  was  ingenuous 
and  young,  and  I  thought  so. 

"  I  can't  make  it  out,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  shaking  his  head.  "  There's 
something  wrong,  somewhere.  However,  it  was  very  soon  after  the 
mistake  was  made  of  putting  some  of  the  trouble  out  of  King 
Charles's  head  into  my  head,  that  the  man  first  came.  I  was  walk- 
ing out  with  Miss  Trotwood  after  tea,  just  at  dark,  and  there  he  was, 
close  to  our  house." 

"  Walking  about  ?"  I  inquired. 

"  Walking  about  ? "  repeated  Mr.  Dick.  "  Let  me  see.  I  must 
recollect  a  bit.     N — no,  no  ;  he  was  not  walking  about." 

I  asked,  as  the  shortest  way  to  get  at  it,  what  he  was  doing. 

"  Well,  he  wasn't  there  at  all,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  "  until  he  came  up 
behind  her,  and  whispered.  Then  she  turned  round  and  fainted 
and  I  stood  still  and  looked  at  him,  and  he  walked  away  ;  but  that 
he  should  have  been  hiding  ever  since  (in  the  ground  or  somewhere) 
is  the  most  extraordinary  thing  !" 

"  Has  he  been  hiding  ever  since  ?"  I  asked. 

"  To  be  sure  he  has,"  retorted  Mr.  Dick,  nodding  his  head  gravely 
'*  Never  catne  out,  till  last  night !  We  were  walking  last  night,  and 
he  came  up  behind  her  again,  and  I  knew  him  again." 


DAVID    UOPPERFIELD.  295 

"  And  did  he  fiighten  my  aunt  again  ?" 

"  All  of  a  shiver,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  counterfeiting  that  affection  anc' 
making  his  teeth  chatter.  "  Held  by  the  palings.  Cried.  But 
Trotwood,  come  here,"  getting  me  close  to  him,  that  he  might  whis- 
per very  softly  ;  "  why  did  she  give  him  money,  boy,  in  the  moon- 
hght  ?" 

"  He  w^as  a  beggar,  perhaps." 

Mr.  Dick  shook  his  head,  as  utterly  renouncing  the  suggestion ; 
and  hanng  replied  a  great  many  times,  and  with  great  confidence, 
"  No  beggar,  no  beggar,  no  beggar,  sir  !"  went  on  to  say,  that  from 
his  window  he  had  afterwards,  and  late  at  night,  seen  my  aunt  giv^f 
this  pei*son  money  outside  the  garden  rails  in  the  moonlight,  who 
then  slunk  away — into  the  ground  again,  as  he  thought  probable — 
and  was  seen  no  more ;  while  my  aunt  came  hurriedly  and  secretly 
back  into  the  house,  and  had,  even  that  morning,  been  quite  dif- 
ferent from  her  usual  self :  which  preyed  on  Mr.  Dick's  mind. 

I  had  not  the  least  belief,  in  the  outset  of  the  story,  that  the  un 
known  was  anything  but  a  delusion  of  Mr.  Dick's,  and  one  of  the 
line  of  that  ill-fated  Prince  who  occasioned  him  so  much  difficulty ; 
but  after  some  reflection  I  began  to  entertain'  the  question  whether 
an  attempt,  or  threat  of  an  attempt,  might  have  been  twice  made  to 
take  poor  Mr.  Dick  himself  from  under  my  aunt's  protection,  and 
whether  my  aunt,  the  strength  of  whose  kind  feeling  towards  him 
I  knew  from  herself,  might  have  been  induced  to  pay  a  price  for 
his  peace  and  quiet.  As  I  was  already  much  attached  to  Mr.  Dick, 
and  very  solicitous  for  his  welfare,  my  fears  favored  this  supposition ; 
and  for  a  long  time  his  Wednesday  hardly  ever  came  round,  without 
my  entertaining  a  misgiving  that  he  would  not  be  on  the  coach-box 
as  usual.  There  he  always  appeared,  however,  grey-headed,  laugh- 
ing, and  happy ;  and  he  never  had  anything  more  to  tell  of  the 
man  who  could  frighten  my  aunt. 

These  Wednesdays  were  the  happiest  days  of  Mr.  Dick's  life  ; 
they  were  far  from  being  the  least  happy  of  mine.  He  soon 
became  known  to  every  boy  in  the  school ;  and  though  he  never 
took  an  active  part  in  any  game  but  kite-flying,  was  as  deejily  in- 
terested in  all  our  sports  as  any  one  among  us.  How  often  have  I 
seen  him,  intent   upon  a  match  at  marbles  or  pegtop,  looking  on 


296  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

with  a  face  of  unutterable  interest,  and  hardly  breathing  at  the 
critical  times !  How  often,  at  hare  and  hounds,  have  I  seen  him 
mounted  on  a  little  knoll,  cheering  the  whole  field  on  to  action,  and 
waving  his  hat  above  his  grey  head,  oblivious  of  King  Charles  the 
Martyr's  head,  and  all  belonging  to  it !  How  many  a  summer-hoiu* 
have  I  known  to  be  but  bhssful  minutes  to  him  in  the  cricket-field ! 
How  many  winter  days  have  I  seen  him,  standing  blue-nosed  in  the 
snow  and  east  wind,  looking  at  the  boys  going  dovm  the  long  shde, 
and  clapping  his  worsted  gloves  in  rapture  ! 

He  was  an  universal  favorite,  and  his  ingenuity  in  little  things 
was  transcendant.  He  could  cut  oranges  into  such  devices  as  none  of 
us  had  an  idea  of  He  could  make  a  boat  out  of  anything,  fi-om  a 
skewer  upwards.  He  could  turn  crampbones  into  chessmen ; 
fashion  Roman  chariots  from  old  court  cards ;  make  spoked  wheels 
out  of  cotton  reels,  and  birdcages  of  old  wire.  But  he  was  greatest 
of  all,  perhaps,  in  the  articles  of  string  and  straw ;  with  which 
we  were  all  persuaded  he  could  do  anything  that  could  be  done  by 
hands. 

Mr.  Dick's  renown  was  not  long  confined  to  us.  After  a  few 
"Wednesdays,  Doctor  Strong  himself  made  some  inquiries  of  me 
about  him,  and  I  told  him  all  my  aimt  had  told  me  ;  which  inter- 
ested the  Doctor  so  much  that  he  requested,  on  the  occasion  of  his 
next  \isit,  to  be  presented  to  him.  This  ceremony  I  performed ;  and 
the  Doctor  begging  Mr.  Dick,  whensoever  he  should  not  find  me  at 
the  coach-office,  to  come  on  there,  and  rest  himself  until  our  morn- 
ing's work  was  over,  it  soon  passed  into  a  custom  for  Mr.  Dick  to 
come  on  as  a  matter  of  course,  and,  if  we  were  a  little  late,  as 
often  happened  on  a  Wednesday,  to  walk  about  the  court-yard, 
waiting  for  me.  Here  he  made  the  acquaintance  of  the  Doctor's 
beautiful  young  wife  (paler  than  formerly,  all  this  time ;  more  rarely 
seen  by  me  or  any  one,  I  think ;  and  not  so  gay  but  not  less  beau- 
tiful), and  so  became  more  and  more  familiar  by  degrees,  until,  at 
last,  he  would  come  into  the  school  and  wait.  He  always  sat  in  a 
particular  corner,  on  a  particular  stool,  which  was  called  "  Dick," 
after  him ;  here  he  would  sit,  with  his  grey  head  bent  forward, 
attentively  listening  to  whatever  might  be  going  on,  ^vith  a  pro- 
found veneration  for  the  learnino;  he  had  never  been  able  to  ac- 
quire. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  297 

This  veneration  Mr.  Dick  extended  to  the  Doctor,  whom  he 
thought  the  most  subtle  and  accomphshed  philosopher  of  any  age. 
It  was  long  before  Mr.  Dick  ever  spoke  to  him  otherwise  than  bare- 
headed ;  and  even  when  he  and  the  Doctor  had  struck  up  quite  a 
friendship,  and  would  walk  together  by  the  hour,  on  that  side  of  the 
court-yard  which  was  known  among  us  as  The  Doctor's  Walk,  Mr. 
Dick  would  pull  off  his  hat  at  intervals  to  show  his  respect  for  wis- 
dom and  knowledfje.  How  it  ever  came  about,  that  the  Doctor  befjan 
to  read  out  scraps  of  the  famous  Dictionary,  in  these  walks,  I  never 
knew ;  perhaps  he  felt  it  all  the  same,  at  first,  as  reading  to  himself. 
However,  it  passed  into  a  custom  too  ;  and  Mr.  Dick,  hstening 
with  a  face  shining  with  pride  and  pleasure,  in  his  heart  of 
hearts  believed  the  Dictionary  to  be  the  most  delightful  book  in 
the  world. 

As  I  think  of  them  goino;  up  and  down  before  those  school-room 
windows — the  Doctor  reading  with  his  complacent  smile,  an  occa- 
sional flourish  of  the  manuscript,  or  grave  motion  of  his  head ;  and 
Mr.  Dick  hstening,  enchained  by  interest,  with  his  poor  wits  calmly 
wandering  God  knows  where,  upon  the  wings  of  hard  words — I 
think  of  it  as  one  of  the  pleasantest  thing's,  in  a  quiet  way,  that  I 
have  ever  seen.  I  feel  as  if  they  might  go  walking  to  and  fro  for 
ever,  and  the  world  might  somehow  be  the  bettei  for  it — as  if  a 
thousand  things  it  makes  a  noise  about,  were  not  one-half  so  good 
for  it,  or  me. 

Agnes  was  one  of  Mr.  Dick's  friends,  very  soon ;  and  in  often 
coming  to  the  house,  he  made  acquaintance  with  Uriah.  The 
friendship  between  himself  and  me  increased  continually,  and  it  was 
maintained  on  this  odd  footing :  that,  while  Mr.  Dick  came  profes- 
sedly to  look  after  me  as  my  guardian,  he  always  consulted  me  in 
any  little  matter  of  doubt  that  arose,  and  invariably  guided  himself 
by  my  advice ;  not  only  liaN-ing  a  high  respect  for  my  native 
sagacity,  but  considering  that  I  had  inherited  a  good  deal  from  my 
aunt. 

One  Tliursday  morning,  when  I  was  about  to  walk  with  Mr.  Dick 
from  the  hotel  to  the  coach-office  before  going  back  to  school  (for 
we  had  an  hour's  school  before  breakfiist),  I  met  Uriah  in  the  street, 
who  reminded  me  of  the  promise  I  had  made  to  take  tea  with 


298  DAVID    COrPERFIELD. 

himself  and  his  mother :  adding,  with  a  writhe,  "  But  I  diduH 
expect  you  to  keep  it,  Master  Copperfield,  we're  so  very  unible." 

I  really  had  not  yet  been  able  to  make  up  my  mind  whether  1 
hked  Uriah  or  detested  him ;  and  I  was  ver}'^  doubtful  about  it  still, 
as  I  stood  looking  him  in  the  face  in  the  street.  But  I  felt  it  quite 
an  affront  to  be  supposed  proud,  and  said  I  only  wanted  to  be 
asked. 

"  Oh,  if  that's  all.  Master  Coppei-field,"  said  Uriah,  "  and  it  really 
isn't  our  umbleness  that  prevents  you,  will  you  come  this  evening  ? 
But  if  it  is  our  umbleness,  I  hope  you  won't  mind  owning  to  it, 
Master  Copperfield ;  for  we  are  well  aware  of  our  condition." 

I  said  I  would  mention  it  to  Mr.  Wickfield,  and  if  he  approved, 
as  I  had  no  doubt  he  would,  I  would  come  with  pleasure.  So,  at 
six  o'clock  that  evening,  which  was  one  of  the  early  office  evenings, 
I  announced  myself  as  ready,  to  Uriah. 

"  Mother  will  be  proud  indeed,"  he  said,  as  we  walked  away 
together.  "  Or  she  would  be  proud,  if  it  wasn't  sinful,  Master 
Copperfield." 

"  Yet  you  didn't  mind  supposing  /  was  proud  this  morning,"  I 
returned. 

"  Oh  dear  no,  Master  Copperfield  ! "  returned  Uriah.  "  Oh, 
believe  me,  no !  Such  a  thought  never  came  into  my  head  !  I 
shouldn't  have  deemed  it  at  all  proud  if  you  had  thought  us  too 
umble  for  you.     Because  we  are  so  very  umble." 

"  Have  you  been  studying  much  law  lately  ? "  I  asked,  to  change 
the  subject. 

"  Oh,  Master  Copperfield,"  he  said,  with  an  air  of  self-denial, 
"  my  reading  is  hardly  to  be  called  study.  I  have  passed  an  hour 
or  two  in  the  evening,  sometimes,  with  Mr.  Tidd." 

"  Rather  hard,  I  suppose  ? "  said  I. 

"  He  is  hard  to  me  sometimes,"  returned  Uriah.  "  But  I  don't 
know  what  he  might  be,  to  a  gifted  person." 

After  beating  a  little  tune  on  his  chin  as  we  walked  on,  with  the 
two  fore-fingers  of  his  skeleton  right  hand,  he  added  : 

"  There  are  expressions,  you  see.  Master  Copperfield — Latin 
Vrords  and  terms — in  Mr.  I'idd,  that  are  trying  to  a  reader  of  my 
umblo  attainments." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  299 

**  Would  you  like  to  be  taught  Latin  ? "  I  said,  briskly.  "  I  will 
teach  it  you  with  pleasure,  as  I  learn  it." 

"  Oh,  thank  you,  Master  Coppei*field,"  he  answered,  shaking  his 
head.  "  I  am  sure  it's  very  kind  of  you  to  make  the  offer,  but  I 
am  much  too  umble  to  accept  it." 

"  What  nonsense,  Uriah  !" 

"  Oh,  indeed  you  must  excuse  me.  Master  Copperfield !  I  am 
greatly  obliged,  and  I  should  like  it  of  all  things,  I  assure  you ;  but 
I  am  far  too  umble.  There  are  people  enough  to  tread  upon  me  in 
my  lowly  state,  without  my  doing  outrage  to  their  feelings  by  pos- 
sessing learning.  Learning  ain't  for  me.  A  person  like  myself 
had  better  not  aspire.  If  he  is  to  get  on  in  hfe,  he  must  get  on 
umbly.  Master  Copperfield." 

I  never  saw  his  mouth  so  wide,  or  the  creases  in  his  cheeks  so 
deep,  as  when  he  delivered  himself  of  these  sentiments  ;  shaking  his 
head  all  the  time,  and  writhing  modestly. 

"  I  think  you  are  wrong,  Uriah,"  I  said.  "  I  dare  say  there 
are  several  things  that  I  could  teach  you,  if  you  would  like  to  learn 
them." 

"  Oh,  I  don't  doubt  that.  Master  Copperfield,"  he  answered  ;  "  not 
in  the  least.  But  not  being  umble  yourself,  you  don't  judge  well, 
perhaps,  for  them  that  are.  I  won't  provoke  my  betters  with  know- 
ledge, thank  you.  I'm  much  too  umble.  Here  is  my  umble  dwell- 
ing. Master  Copperfield !" 

We  entered  a  low,  old-fashioned  room,  walked  straight  into  from 
the  street,  and  found  there,  Mrs.  Heep,  who  was  the  dead  image  of 
Uriah,  only  short.  She  received  me  with  the  utmost  humility,  and 
apologised  to  me  for  giving  her  son  a  kiss,  observing  that,  lowly  as 
they  were,  they  had  their  natural  affections,  which  they  hoped 
would  give  no  offence  to  any  one.  It  was  a  perfectly  decent  room, 
half  parlor  and  half  kitchen,  but  not  at  all  a  snug  room.  The  tea- 
things  were  set  upon  the  table,  and  the  kettle  was  boiling  on  the 
hob.  There  was  a  chest  of  drawers  with  an  escrutoire  top,  for  Uriah 
to  read  or  write  at  of  an  evening  ;  there  was  Uriah's  blue  bag  lying 
down  and  vomiting  papei-s  ;  there  was  a  company  of  Uriah's  books, 
commanded  by  Mr.  Tidd  ;  there  was  a  corner  cupboard ;  and  there 
were  the  usual  articles  of  furniture.     I  don't  remember  that  any  in- 


800  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

dividual  object  had  a  bare,  pinched,  spare  look  ;  but  I  do  remembtr 
that  the  whole  place  had. 

It  was  perhaps  a  part  of  Mrs.  Heep's  humihty,  that  she  still  wore 
weeds.  Notwithstanding  the  lapse  of  time  that  had  occurred  since 
Mr.  Heep's  decease,  she  still  wore  weeds.  I  think  there  was  some 
compromise  in  the  cap ;  but  otherwise  she  was  as  weedy  as  in  the 
early  days  of  her  mourning. 

"  This  is  a  day  to  be  remembered,  my  Uriah,  I  am  sure,"  said 
Mrs.  Heep,  making  the  tea,  "  when  Master  Copperfield  pays  us  a 
visit." 

"  I  said  you  'd  think  so,  mother,"  said  Uriah. 

"  If  I  could  have  wished  father  to  remain  among  us  for  any  rea- 
son," said  Mrs.  Heep,  "  it  would  have  been,  that  he  might  have 
known  his  company  this  afternoon." 

I  felt  embarrassed  by  these  compHments  ;  but  I  was  sensible,  too, 
of  being  entertained  as  an  honored  guest,  and  I  thought  Mrs.  Heep 
an  agreeable  woman. 

"  My  Uriah,"  said  Mrs.  Heep,  "  has  looked  forward  to  this,  sir,  a 
long  while.  He  had  his  fears  that  our  umbleness  stood  in  the  way, 
and  I  joined  in  them  myself.  Umble  we  are,  umble  we  have  been, 
umble  we  shall  ever  be,"  said  Mrs.  Heep. 

"  I  am  sure  you  have  no  occasion  to  be  so,  ma'am,"  I  said, 
"  unless  you  like." 

'•  Thank  you,  sir,"  retorted  Mrs.  Heep.  "  We  know  our  station 
and  are  thankful  in  it." 

I  found  that  Mrs.  Heep  gradually  got  nearer  to  me,  and  that 
Uriah  gradually  got  opposite  to  me,  and  that  they  respectfully  plied 
me  with  the  choicest  of  the  eatables  on  the  table.  There  was 
nothing  particularly  choice  there,  to  be  sure ;  but  I  took  the  will  for 
the  deed,  and  felt  that  they  were  very  attentive.  Presently  they 
began  to  talk  about  aunts,  and  then  I  told  them  about  mine  ;  and 
about  fathers  and  mothers,  and  then  I  told  them  about  mine ;  and 
then  Mrs.  Heep  began  to  talk  about  fathers-in-law,  and  then  I  began 
to  tell  her  about  mine — but  stopped,  because  my  aunt  had  advised 
me  to  observe  a  silence  on  that  subject.  A  tender  young  cork, 
however,  would  have  had  no  more  chance  against  a  pair  of  cork 
screws,  or  a  tender  young  tooth  against  a  pair  of  dentists,  or  a  little 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  801 

shuttlecock  against  two  battledores,  than  I  had  against  Uriah  and 
Mrs.  Heep.  They  did  just  what  they  liked  with  me ;  and  wonned 
things  out  of  me  that  I  had  no  desire  to  tell,  with  a  certainty  I 
blush  to  think  of:  the  more  especially  as,  in  my  juvenile  frankness, 
I  took  some  credit  to  myself  for  being  so  confidential,  and  felt  that  I 
was  quite  the  patron  of  my  two  respectful  entertainers. 

They  were  very  fond  of  one  another :  that  was  certain.  I  take  it 
that  had  its  effect  upon  me,  as  a  touch  of  nature ;  but  the  skill  with 
which  the  one  followed  up  whatever  the  other  said,  was  a  touch  of  art 
which  I  was  still  less  proof  against.  When  there  was  nothing  more 
to  be  got  out  of  me  about  myself  (for  on  the  Murdstone  and  Grinby 
life,  and  on  my  journey,  I  was  dumb),  they  began  about  Mr.  Wick- 
field  and  Agnes.  Uriah  threw  the  ball  to  Mrs.  Heep,  Mi-s.  Heep 
caught  it  and  threw  it  back  to  Uriah,  Uriah  kept  it  up  a  little  while, 
then  sent  it  back  to  Mrs.  Heep,  and  so  they  went  on  tossing  it  about 
until  I  had  no  idea  who  had  got  it,  and  was  quite  bewildered.  The 
ball  itself  was  always  changing  too.  Now  it  was  Mr.  Wickfield,  now 
Agnes,  now  the  excellence  of  Mr.  Wickfield,  now  my  admiration  of 
Agnes ;  now  the  extent  of  Mr.  Wickfield's  business  and  resources 
now  our  domestic  hfe  after  dinner ;  now  the  wine  that  Mr.  Wick 
field  took,  the  reason  why  he  took  it,  and  the  pity  that  it  was  he 
took  so  much ;  now  one  thing,  now  another,  then  every  thing  at 
once  ;  and  all  the  time,  without  appearing  to  speak  very  often,  or  to 
do  anything  but  sometimes  encourage  them  a  little,  for  fear  they 
should  be  overcome  by  their  humility  and  the  honor  of  my  com- 
pany, I  found  myself  perpetually  letting  out  something  or  othei:  that 
I  had  no  business  to  let  out,  and  seeing  the  effect  of  it  in  the  twink- 
hng  of  Uriah's  dinted  nostrils. 

I  had  begun  to  be  a  little  uncomfortable,  and  to  wish  myself  well 
out  of  the  visit,  when  a  figure  coming  down  the  street  passed  the 
door — it  stood  open  to  air  the  room,  which  was  warm,  the  weather 
being  close  for  the  time  of  year — came  back  again,  looked  in,  and 
walked  in,  exclaiming  loudly,  "  Coppei-field  !     Is  it  possible  ?" 

It  was  Mr.  Micawber !  It  was  Mr.  Micawber,  with  his  eye-glass, 
and  his  walking-stick,  and  his  shirt-collar,  and  his  genteel  air,  and 
the  condescending  roll  in  his  voice,  all  complete ! 

"  My  dear  Copperlield,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  putting  out  his  hand. 


302  D  A  V  T J)     C  0  P  P  E  R  F  I E  L  D . 

"  ttik  is  indeed  a  meeting  wTiicii  is  calculated  to  impress  the  mind 
with  a  sense  of  the  instability  and  uncertainty  of  all  human — in 
short,  it  is  a  most  extraordinary  meeting.  Walking  along  the 
street,  reflecting  upon  the  probability  of  something  turning  up  (oi 
which  I  am  at  present  rather  sanguine),  I  find  a  young,  but  valued 
friend  turn  up,  who  is  connected  with  the  most  eventful  period  of  my 
life  ;  I  may  say,  with  the  turning  point  of  my  existence.  Copperfield, 
my  dear  fellow,  how  do  you  do  ?" 

I  cannot  say — I  really  cnunot  say — that  I  was  glad  to  see  Mr. 
Micawber  there  ;  but  I  was  glad  to  see  him  too,  and  shook  hands 
with  him  heartily,  inquiring  how  Mrs.  Micawber  was. 

"  Thank  you,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  waving  his  hand  as  of  old,  and 
settling  his  chin  in  his  shirt-collar.  "  She  is  tolerably  convalescent. 
The  twins  no  lono-er  derive  their  sustenance  from  Nature's  founts — 
in  short,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  in  one  of  his  bursts  of  confidence, 
"  they  are  weaned — and  Mrs.  Micawber  is,  at  present,  my  travelling 
companion.  She  will  be  rejoiced,  Copperfield,  to  renew  her  acquaint- 
ance with  one  who  has  proved  himself  in  all  respects  a  worthy 
minister  at  the  sacred  altar  of  friendship." 

I  said  I  should  be  dehghted  to  see  her. 

"  You  are  very  good,"  5aid  Mr.  Micawber. 

Mr.  Micawber  then  smiled,  settled  his  chin  again,  and  looked 
about  him. 

"  I  have  discovered  my  friend  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Micawber 
genteelly,  and  without  addressing  himself  particularly  to  any  one, 
"  not  in  solitude,  but  partaking  of  a  social  meal  in  company  with  a 
widow  lady,  and  one  who  is  apparently  her  offspring — in  short,"  said 
Mr.  Micawber,  in  another  of  his  bursts  of  confidence,  "her  son.  I 
shall  esteem  it  an  honor  to  be  presented." 

I  could  do  no  less,  under  these  circumstances,  than  make  Mr. 
Micawber  known  to  Uriah  Heep  and  his  mother ;  which  I  accord- 
ingly did.  As  they  abased  themselves  before  him,  Mr.  Micawber 
took  a  seat,  and  waved  his  hand  in  his  most  courtly  manner. 

"  Any  friend  of  my  friend  Copperfield's,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  has 
a  personal  claim  upon  myself." 

"  We  are  too  umble,  sir,"  said  Mrs.  Heep,  "  my  son  and  me,  to  be 
the  friends  of  Master  Copperfield.     He  has  been  so  good  as  to  take 


lwhary 

I   "-„.£F  THE 


fffS/TK  or 


iLLm  /,. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  808 

his  tea  with  lis,  and  we  are  thankful  to  him  for  his  comp.inj  :  alsf 
to  you,  sir,  for  your  notice." 

"Ma'am,"  returned  Mr.  Micawber,  with  a  }x)»v,  "you  are  very 
ol)]iging :  and  what  are  you  doing,  Copperlield  ?  Still  in  the  wino 
trade  ?" 

I  was  excessively  anxious  to  get  Mr.  Micawber  away ;  and  replied, 
w".th  my  hat  in  my  hand,  and  a  very  red  face  I  have  no  doubt,  that 
I  was  a  pupil  at  Dr.  Strong's. 

"  A  pupil  f  said  Mr.  Micawber,  raising  his  eyebrows.  "  I  am 
extremely  happy  to  hear  it.  Although  a  mind  hke  my  friend  Cop- 
perfield's," — to  Uriah  and  Mrs.  Heep — "  does  not  require  that  culti- 
vation which,  without  his  knowledfjfe  of  men  and  tliinop,  it  would 
require,  still  it  is  a  rich  soil  teeming  with  latent  vegetation — in 
short,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  smiling,  in  another  burst  of  confidence, 
"  it  is  an  intellect  capable  of  getting  up  the  classics  to  any  extent." 

Uriah,  ^vith  his  long  hands  slowly  twining  over  one  another,  made 
a  ghastly  writhe  from  the  waist  upwards,  to  express  his  concurrence 
in  this  estimation  of  me. 

"  Shall  we  go  and  see  Mrs.  Micawber,  sir  ?"  I  said,  to  get  Mr. 
Micawber  away. 

"  If  you  will  do  her  that  favor,  Copperfield,"  replied  Mr.  Micaw- 
ber, rising.  "  I  have  no  scruple  in  saying,  in  the  presence  of  our 
friends  here,  that  I  am  a  man  who  has,  for  some  years,  contended 
against  the  pressure  of  pecuniary  difficulties."  I  knew  he  was  cer- 
tain to  say  something  of  this  kind ;  he  always  w^ould  be  so  boastful 
about  his  difficulties.  "  Sometimes  I  have  risen  superior  to  my  difficul- 
ties. Sometimes  my  difficulties  have — in  short,  have  floored  me. 
There  have  been  times  when  I  have  administered  a  succession  of 
facers  to  them ;  there  have  been  times  when  they  have  been  too 
man}'^  for  me,  and  I  have  given  in,  and  said  to  Mi-s.  Micawber  in  the 
words  of  Cato,  '  Plato,  thou  reasonest  well.  It's  all  up  now.  I  can 
show  fio;ht  no  more.'  But  at  no  time  of  mv  life,"  said  Mr.  Micaw- 
ber,  "  have  I  enjoyed  a  higher  degree  of  satisfaction  than  in  pouring 
my  griefs  (if  T  may  descril)e  difficulties  chiefly  arising  out  of  warrants 
of  attorney  and  promissory  notes  at  two  and  four  months,  by  that 
word)  into  the  bosom  of  my  friend  Copperfield." 

Mr.  Micawber  closed  this  handsome  tribute  by  saying,  "  Mr.  Heep  1 
Good  evening.     Mrs.  Heep !    Your  servant,"  and  then  walking  out 


804  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

with  me  in  his  most  fashionable,  mannei*,  making  a  good  deal  of 
noise  on  the  pavement  with  his  shoes,  and  humming  a  tune  as  we 
went. 

It  was  a  little  inn  where  Mr.  Micawber  put  up,  and  he  occupied  a 
httle  room  in  it,  partitioned  off  from  the  commercial  room,  and 
strongly  flavored  with  tobacco  smoke.  I  think  it  was  over  the 
kitchen,  because  a  warm  greasy  smell  appeared  to  come  up  through 
the  chinks  in  the  floor,  and  there  was  a  flabby  perspiration  on  the 
walls.  I  know  it  was  near  the  bar,  on  account  of  the  smell  of  spirits 
and  jingling  of  glasses.  Here,  recumbent  on  a  small  sofa,  under- 
neath a  picture  of  a  race-horse,  with  her  head  close  to  the  fire,  and 
her  feet  pushing  the  mustard  off  the  dumb-waiter  at  the  other  end 
of  the  room,  was  Mrs.  Micawber,  to  whom  Mr.  Micawber  entered 
first,  saying,  "  My  dear,  allow  me  to  introduce  to  you  a  pupil  of 
Doctor  Strong's." 

I  noticed,  by-the-by,  that  although  Mr.  Micawber  was  just  as  much 
confused  as  ever  about  my  age  and  standing,  he  always  remembered, 
as  a  genteel  thing,  that  I  was  a  pupil  of  Doctor  Strong's. 

Mrs.  Micawber  was  amazed,  but  very  glad  to  see  me.  I  was 
very  glad  to  see  her  too,  and  after  an  affectionate  greeting  on  both 
sides,  sat  down  on  the  small  sofa  near  her. 

"  My  dear,"  said  Mr.  Micawber,  "  if  you  will  mention  to  Copper- 
field  what  our  present  position  is,  which  I  have  no  doubt  he  will  hke 
to  know,  I  will  go  and  look  at  the  paper  the  while,  and  see  whether 
anything  turns  up  among  the  advertisements." 

"  I  thought  you  were  at  Plymouth,  ma'am,"  I  said  to  Mrs.  iMicaw- 
ber,  as  he  went  out. 

"  My  dear  Master  Copperfield,"  she  replied,  "  we  went  to  Ply- 
mouth." 

"  To  be  on  the  spot,"  I  hinted. 

*'  Just  so,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  To  be  on  the  spot.  But,  the 
truth  is,  talent  is  not  wanted  in  the  Custom  House.  The  local 
influence  of  my  family  was  quite  unavailing  to  obtain  any  employ- 
ment in  that  department,  for  a  man  of  Mr.  Micawber's  abilities. 
They  would  rather  not  have  a  man  of  Mr.  Micawber's  abilities.  He 
would  only  show  the  deficiency  of  the  others.  Apart  fi-om  which,'* 
said  Mrs.  Micawber,  "  I  will  not  disguise  fi'om  you,  my  dear  Master 
Copperfield,  that  when  that  branch  of  my  family  which  is  settled  in 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  805 

Plyiioiith  became  aware  that  Mr.  Micawber  was  accompanied  by 
myself,  and  by  little  Wilkins  and  his  sister,  and  by  the  twins,  they 
did  not  receive  him  with  that  ardor  which  he  might  have  expected, 
being  so  newly  released  from  captivity.  In  fact,"  said  Mi-s.  Micaw- 
ber, lowering  her  voice, — "  this  is  between  ourselves — our  reception 
was  cooi" 

"  Dear  me  !"  I  said. 

"  Yes,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  It  is  truly  painful  to  contemplate 
mankind  in  such  an  aspect.  Master  Coppei-field,  but  our  reception 
W[is  decidedly  cool.  There  is  no  doubt  about  it.  In  fact,  that 
branch  of  my  family  which  is  settled  in  Plymouth  became  quite 
personal  to  Mr.  Micawber,  before  we  had  been  there  a  week." 

I  said,  and  thought,  that  they  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  them- 
selves. 

"  Still,  so  it  was,"  continued  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  Under  such  cir- 
cumstances, what  could  a  man  of  Mr.  Micawber's  spirit  do  ?  But 
one  obvious  course  was  left.  To  borrow,  of  that  branch  of  my  fa- 
mily, the  money  to  retm-n  to  London,  and  to  return  at  any  sacri- 
fice." 

"  Then  you  all  came  back  again,  ma'am  ?"  I  said. 

"  We  all  came  back  again,"  replied  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  Since  then, 
I  have  consulted  other  branches  of  my  family  on  the  course  which 
it  is  most  expedient  for  Mr.  Micawber  to  take — for  I  maintain  that 
he  must  take  some  course,  Master  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Micawber, 
argumentatively.  "  It  is  clear  that  a  family  of  six,  not  including  a 
domestic,  cannot  live  upon  air." 

"  Certainly,  ma'am,"  said  I. 

"  The  opinion  of  those  other  branches  of  my  family,"  pursued 
Mrs.  Micawber,  "  is,  that  Mr.  Micawber  should  immediately  turn  Ins 
attention  to  coals." 

"  To  what,  ma'am  ?" 

"  To  coals,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber.  "  To  the  coal  trade.  Mr.  ^li- 
cawber  was  induced  to  think,  on  inquiry,  that  there  might  be  an 
opening  for  a  man  of  his  talent  in  the  Medway  Coal  Trade.  Then, 
as  Mr.  Micawber  very  properly  said,  tlie  first  step  to  be  taken  clearly 
was,  to  come  and  see  the  Medway.  Which  we  came  and  saw.  J 
say  *  we,'  Master  Copperfield  ;  for  I  never  will,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber 
with  emotion,  "  I  never  will  desert  Mr.  Micawber." 
19 


806  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

I  murmured  mj  admiration  and  approbation. 

"  We  came,"  repeated  Mrs  Micawber,  "  and  saw  the  Medway. 
My  opinion  of  the  coal  trade  on  that  river  is,  that  it  may  require  ta- 
lent, but  that  it  certainly  requires  capital.  Talent,  Mr.  Micawber 
has ;  capital,  Mr.  Micawber  has  not.  We  saw,  I  think,  the  greater 
part  of  the  Medway  ;  and  that  is  my  individual  concliLsion.  ^  Being 
so  near  here,  Mr.  Micawber  was  of  opinion  that  it  would  be  rash  not 
to  come  on,  and  see  the  Cathedral.  Firstly,  on  account  of  its  being 
so  well  worth  seeing,  and  our  never  having  seen  it ;  and  secondly, 
on  account  of  the  great  probabihty  of  something  turning  up  in  a 
cathedral  town.  We  have  been  here,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber,  "  three 
days.  Nothing  has,  as  yet,  turned  up ;  and  it  may  not  surprise 
you,  my  dear  Master  Copperfield,  so  much  as  it  would  a  stranger,  to 
know  that  we  are  at  present  waiting  for  a  remittance  from  London, 
to  discharge  our  pecuniary  obligations  at  this  hotel.  Until  the  arri- 
val of  that  remittance,"  said  Mrs.  Micawber,  with  much  feeling,  "  I 
am  cut  off  fi'om  my  home  (I  allude  to  lodgings  in  Pentonville),  fi-om 
my  boy  and  girl,  and  from  my  twins." 

I  felt  the  utmost  sympathy  for  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Micawber  in  this 
anxious  extremity,  and  said  as  much  to  Mr.  Micawber,  who  now  re- 
turned :  adding  that  I  only  wished  I  had  money  enough,  to  lend 
them  the  amount  they  needed.  Mr.  Micawber's  answer  expressed 
the  disturbance  of  his  mind.  He  said,  shaking  hands  with  me, 
"  Copperfield,  you  are  a  true  friend ;  but  when  the  worst  comes  to 
the  worst,  no  man  is  without  a  friend  who  is  possessed  of  sha\ang 
materials."  At  this  dreadful  hint,  Mrs.  Micawber  threw  her  arms 
around  Mr.  Micawber's  neck  and  entreated,  him  to  be  calm.  He 
wept ;  but  so  far  recovered,  almost  immediately,  as  to  ring  the  bell 
for  the  waiter,  and  bespeak  a  hot  kidney  pudding  and  a  plate  of 
shrimps  for  breakfast  in  the  morning. 

When  I  took  my  leave  of  them,  they  both  pressed  me  so  much 
\o  come  and  dine  before  they  went  away,  that  I  could  not  refuse. 
3ut,  as  I  knew  I  could  not  come  next  day,  when  I  should  have  a 
rood  deal  to  prepare  in  the  evening,  Mr.  Micawber  arranged  that  he 
A'ould  call  at  Doctor  Strong's  in  the  course  of  the  morning  (having 
^  presentiment  that  the  remittance  would  arrive  by  that  pcet),  and 
propose  the  day  after,  if  it  would  suit  me  better.  Accordingly  I 
was  called  out  of  school  next  forenoon,  and  found  Mr.  Micawber 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  807 

in  the  parlor ;  who  had  called  to  say  that  the  dinner  would  take 
place  as  proposed.  "When  I  asked  him  if  the  remittance  had  come, 
he  pressed  my  hand  and  departed. 

As  I  was  looking  out  of  window  that  same  evening,  it  surprised 
me,  and  made  me  rather  uneasy,  to  see  Mr.  Micawber  and  Uriah 
Heep  walk  past,  arm  in  arm :  Uriah  humbly  sensible  of  the  j^nor 
that  was  done  him,  and  Mr.  Micawber  taking  a  bland  delight  in  ex- 
tending his  patronage  to  Uriah.  But  I  was  still  more  surprised^ 
when  I  went  to  the  little  hotel  next  day  at  the  appointed  dinner  hour, 
which  was  four  o'clock,  to  find,  from  what  Mr.  Micawber  said,  that 
he  had  gone  home  with  Uriah,  and  had  drunk  brandy -and- water  at 
Mrs.  Heep's. 

"  And  I'll  tell  you  what,  my  dear  Copperfield,"  said  Mr.  Micaw- 
ber, "  your  friend  Heep  is  a  young  fellow  who  might  be  attorney- 
general.  If  I  had  known  that  young  man,  at  the  period  when  my 
difficulties  came  to  a  crisis,  all  I  can  say  is,  that  I  believe  my  cre- 
ditors would  have  been  a  great  deal  better  managed  than  they 
were." 

I  hardly  understood  how  this  could  have  been,  seeing  that  Mr. 
Micawber  had  paid  them  nothing  at  all  as  it  was ;  but  I  did  not 
Uke  to  ask.  Neither  did  I  hke  to  say,  that  I  hoped  he  had  not 
been  too  communicative  to  Uriah ;  or  to  inquire  if  they  had  talked 
much  about  me.  I  was  afraid  of  hurting  Mr.  Micawber's  feehngs, 
or,  at  all  events,  Mrs.  Micawber's,  she  being  very  sensitive  ;  but  I 
was  uncomfortable  about  it,  too,  and  often  thought  about  it  after- 
wards. 

We  had  a  beautiful  little  dinner.  Quite  an  elegant  dish  of  fish  ; 
the  kidney-end  of  a  loin  of  veal,  roasted  ;  fried  sausage-meat ;  a 
partridge,  and  a  pudding.  There  was  wine,  and  there  was  strong 
ale  ;  and  after  dinner  Mrs.  Micawber  made  us  a  bowl  of  hot  punch 
with  her  own  hands. 

Mr.  Micawber  was  uncommonly  convivial.  I  never  saw  him  such 
good  company.  He  made  his  face  shine  VNith  the  punch,  so  that  it 
looked  as  if  it  had  been  varnished  all  over.  He  got  cheerfully 
sentimental  about  the  town,  and  proposed  success  to  it  ;  observ- 
ing, that  Mrs.  Micawber  and  himself  had  been  extremely  snug  and 
comfortable  there,  and  that  he  never  should  forget  the  agreeable 
hours  they  had  passed  in  Canterbury.     He  proposed  me  afterwards ; 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

and  he,  and  Mrs.  Micawber,  and  I,  took  a  re\dew  of  our  past  ac* 
'^uaintance,  in  the  course  of  which  we  sold  the  property  all  over 
again.  Then  I  proposed  Mrs.  Micawber  ;  or,  at  least,  said  modestly, 
"  K  you'll  allow  me,  Mrs.  Micawber,  I  shall  now  have  the  pleasure 
of  dfinking  y(mr  health,  ma'am."  On  which  Mr.  Micawber  delivered 
an^logium  on  Mrs.  Micawber's  character,  and  said  that  she  had 
ever  been  his  guide,  philosopher,  and  friend,  and  he  would  re- 
commend me,  when  I  came  to  a  marrying  time  of  hfe,  to  marry 
such  another  woman,  if  such  another  woman  could  be  found. 

As  the  punch  disappeared,  Mr.  Micawber  became  still  more 
friendly  and  convivial.  Mrs.  Micawber's  spirits  becoming  elevated, 
too,  we  sang  "  Auld  Lang  Syne."  Wlien  we  came  to  "  Here  's  a 
hand,  my  trusty  frere,"  we  all  joined  hands  round  the  table ;  and 
when  we  declared  we  would  "  take  a  right  gude  Willie  Waught," 
and  hadn't  the  least  idea  what  it  meant,  we  were  really  affected. 

In  a  word,  I  never  saw  any  body  so  thoroughly  jovial  as  Mr, 
Micawber  was,  down  to  the  very  last  moment  of  the  evening,  when 
I  took  a  hearty  farewell  of  himself  and  his  amiable  wife.  Conse- 
quently, I  was  not  prepared,  at  seven  o'clock  next  morning,  to  receive 
the  following  communication,  dated  half-past  nine  in  the  evening  ;  a 
quarter  of  an  hour  after  I  had  left  him. 

"  My  dear  Young  Friend, 

"  The  die  is  cast — all  is  over.  Hiding  the  ravages  of  care 
with  a  sickly  mask  of  mirth,  I  have  not  informed  you,  this  evening, 
that  there  is  no  hope  of  the  remittance  !  Under  these  circumstances, 
alike  humiliating  to  endure,  humiliating  to  contemplate,  and  humi- 
liating to  relate,  I  have  discharged  the  pecuniary  liability  contracted 
at  this  establishment,  by  giving  a  note  of  hand,  made  payable  four- 
teen days  after  date,  at  my  residence,  Pentonville,  London.  When 
it  becomes  due,  it  will  not  be  taken  up.  The  result  is  destruction. 
The  bolt  is  impending,  and  the  tree  must  fall. 

"  Let  the  wretched  man  who  now  addresses  you,  my  dear  Copper- 
field,  be  a  beacon  to  you  through  life.  He  writes  with  that  inten- 
tion, and  in  that  hope.  If  he  could  think  himself  of  so  much  use, 
one  gleam  of  day  might,  by  possibilit}?^,  penetrate  into  the  cheerless 
dungeon  of  his  remaining  existence — though  his  longevity  is,  at 
present  (to  say  the  least  of  it),  extremely  problematical. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  309 

"  This  is  the  last  communication,  my  dear  Copperfield,  you  will 

ever  receive                         "  From  ^ 

"The  ▼ 
"  Beggared  Outcast, 

"  WiLKINS  MlCAWBB^" 

I  was  so  shocked  by  the  contents  of  this  heart-rending  letter,"that 
1  ran  off  directly  towards  the  little  hotel  with  the  intention  of  taking 
it  on  my  way  to  Doctor  Strong's,  and  trying  to  soothe  Mr.  Micaw- 
bcir  with  a  word  of  comfort.  But,  half-way  there,  I  met  the  London 
coach  with  Mr.  and  Mre.  Micawber  up  behind ;  Mr.  Micawber,  the 
very  picture  of  tranquil  enjoyment,  smiling  at  Mrs.  Micawber's  con- 
versation, eating  w^ilnuts  out  of  a  paper  bag,  with  a  bottle  sticking 
out  of  his  breast  pocket.  As  they  did  not  see  me,  I  thought  it  be.st, 
all  thing's  considered,  not  to  see  them.  So,  with  a  great  weight 
taken  off  my  mind,  I  turned  into  a  by-street  that  was  the  nearest 
way  to  school,  and  felt,  upon  the  whole,  reheved  that  they  were 
gone ;  though  I  still  liked  them  very  much,  nevertheless. 


CHAPTER  XYIII. 


A    RETROSPECT. 


My  school-days  !  The  silent  gliding  on  of  my  existence — the  un- 
seen, unfelt  progress  of  my  life — from  childhood  up  to  youth  !  Let 
me  think,  as  I  look  back  upon  that  flowing  water,  now  a  dry  channel 
overgrown  with  leaves,  whether  there  are  any  marks  along  its 
course,  by  which  I  can  remember  how  it  ran. 

A  moment,  and  I  occupy  my  place  in  the  Cathedral,  where  we 
all  went  together,  every  Sunday  morning,  assembling  first  at  school 
for  that  purpose.  The  earthy  smell,  the  sunless  air,  the  sensation  of 
the  world  being  shut  out,  the  resounding  of  the  organ  through  the 
black  and  white  arched  galleries  and  aisles,  are  wings  that  take  me 
back,  and  hold  me  hovering  above  those  days,  in  a  half-sleeping  and 
half-wakingr  dream. 

I  am  not  the  last  boy  in  the  school.     I  have  risen,  in  a  few 


310  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

months,  over  several  heads.  But  the  first  boy  seems  to  me  a  mighty 
creature,  dwelling  afar  off,  whose  giddy  height  is  unattamable. 
Agnes  says  "  No,"  but  I  say  "  Yes,"  and  tell  her  that  she  httle  thinks 
what  stores  of  knowledge  have  been  mastered  by  the  wonderful 
Being,  at  whose  place  she  thinks  I,  even  I,  weak  aspirant,  may  arrive 
in  tfeie.  He  is  not  my  private  friend  and  public  patron,  as  Steer- 
forth  was,  but  I  hold  him  in  a  reverential  respect.  I  chiefly  wonder 
what  he'll  be,  when  he  leaves  Doctor  Strong's,  and  what  mankind 
will  do  to  maintain  any  place  against  him. 

But  who  is  this  that  breaks  upon  me  ?  This  is  Miss  Shepherd, 
whom  I  love. 

Miss  Shepherd  is  a  boarder  at  the  Misses  Nettingalls'  estabhsh- 
ment.  I  adore  Miss  Shepherd.  She  is  a  little  girl,  in  a  spencer, 
with  a  round  face  and  curly  flaxen  hair.  The  Misses  Nettingalls' 
young  ladies  come  to  the  Cathedral  too.  I  cannot  look  upon  my 
book,  for  I  must  look  upon  Miss  Shepherd.  When  the  choristers 
chaunt,  I  hear  Miss  Shepherd.  In  the  service  I  mentally  insert 
Miss  Shepherd's  name — I  put  her  in  among  the  Royal  Family.  At 
home,  in  my  own  room,  I  am  sometimes  moved  to  cry  out,  "  Oh, 
Miss  Shepherd ! "  in  a  transport  of  love. 

For  some  time,  I  am  doubtful  of  Miss  Shepherd's  feehngs,  but,  at 
length,  Fate  being  propitious,  we  meet  at  the  dancing-school.  I 
have  Miss  Shepherd  for  my  partner.  I  touch  Miss  Shepherd's  glove, 
and  feel  a  thrill  go  up  the  right  arm  of  my  jacket,  and  come  out  at 
my  hair.  I  say  nothing  tender  to  Miss  Shepherd,  but  we  under- 
stand each  other.     Miss  Shepherd  and  myself  live  but  to  be  united. 

Why  do  I  secretly  give  Miss  Shepherd  twelve  Brazil  nuts  for  a 
present,  I  wonder?  They  are  not  expressive  of  affection,  they  are 
difficult  to  pack  into  a  parcel  of  any  regular  shape,  they  are  hard  to 
crack,  even  in  room  doors,  and  they  are  oily  when  cracked ;  yet  I 
feel  that  they  are  appropriate  to  Miss  Shepherd.  Soft,  seedy  bis- 
cuits, also,  I  bestow  upon  Miss  Shepherd ;  and  oranges  innumerable. 
Once,  I  kiss  Miss  Shepherd  in  the  cloak  room.  Ecstacy !  What 
are  my  agony  and  indignation  next  day,  when  I  hear  a  flying 
rumour  that  the  Misses  Nettingall  have  stood  Miss  Shepherd  in  the 
stocks  for  turning  in  her  toes ! 

Miss  Shepherd  being  the  one  pervading  theme  and  vision  of  my 
life,  how  do  I  e\er  come  to  break  with  her  ? .  I  can't  conceive.    And 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  811 

yet  a  coolness  grows  between  Miss  Shepherd  and  myself.  Whis- 
pers reach  me  of  Miss  Shei)herd  having  said  she  wished  I  wouldn't 
stare  so,  and  having  avowed  a  preference  for  Master  Jones — for 
Jones  !  a  boy  of  no  merit  whatever !  The  gulf  between  me  and 
Miss  Shepherd  widens.  At  last,  one  day,  I  meet  the  Misses  Nettin- 
galls'  establishment  out  walking.  Miss  Shepherd  makes  a  face  as 
she  goes  by,  and  laughs  to  her  companion.  All  is  over.  The 
devotion  of  a  life — it  seems  a  life,  it  is  all  the  same — ^is  at  an  end  ; 
Miss  Shepherd  comes  out  of  the  morning  service,  and  the  Royal 
Family  know  her  no  more. 

I  am  higher  in  the  school,  and  no  one  breaks  my  peace.  I  am 
not  at  all  pohte  now,  to  the  Misses  Nettingalls'  young  ladies,  and 
shouldn't  dote  on  any  of  them,  if  they  were  twice  as  many  and 
twenty  times  as  beautifid.  I  think  the  dancing-school  a  tiresome 
affair,  and  wonder  why  the  girls  can't  dance  by  themselves  and  leave 
us  alone.  I  am  gl•o^^^ng  great  in  Latin  verses,  and  neglect  the 
laces-of  my  boots.  Doctor  Strong  refers  to  me  in  public  as  a  pro- 
mising young  scholar.  Mr.  Dick  is  wild  with  joy,  and  my  aunt 
remits  me  a  guinea  by  the  next  post. 

The  shade  of  a  young  butcher  rises,  like  the  apparition  of  an 
armed  head  in  Macbeth.  Who  is  this  young  butcher  ?  He  is  the 
terror  of  the  youth  of  Canterbury.  There  is  a  vague  belief  abroad, 
that  the  beef  suet  with  whicli  he  anoints  his  hair  mves  him  unnatural 
strength,  and  that  he  is  a  match  for  a  man.  He  "«  a  broad-faced, 
bull-necked  young  butcher,  with  rough  red  cheeks,  an  ill-conditioned 
mind,  and  an  injurious  tongue.  Hjs  main  use  of  this  tongue,  is,  to 
disparage  Doctor  Strong's  young  gentlemen.  He  says,  publicly,  that 
ff  they  want  anything  he'll  give  it  'em.  He  names  individuals 
nmong  them  (myself  included),  whom  he  could  undertake  to  settle 
with  one  hand,  and  the  other  tied  behind  him.  He  w^aylays  the 
smaller  boys  to  punch  their  unprotected  heads,  and  calls  challenges 
after  me  in  the  open  streets.  For  these  sufficient  reasons  I  resolve 
to  fight  the  butcher. 

It  is  a  summer  evening,  down  in  a  green  hollow,  at  the  corner  of 
a  wall.  I  meet  the  butcher  by  appointment.  I  am  attended  by  a 
select  body  of  our  boys ;  the  butcher,  by  two  other  butchers,  a 
young  pubhcan,  and  a  sweep.     The  preliminaries  are  adjusted,  mid 


312  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

the  butcher  and  myself  stand  face  to  face.  In  a  moment  the 
butcher  lights  ten  thousand  candles  out  of  my  left  eyebrow.  In 
another  moment,  I  don't  know  where  the  wall  is,  or  where  I  am,  or 
where  anybody  is.  I  hardly  know  which  is  myself  and  which  the 
bijtcher,  we  are  always  in  such  a  tangle  and  tustle,  knocking  abc-ut 
upon  the  trodden  grass.  Sometimes  I  see  the  butcher,  bloody  but 
confident ;  sometimes  I  see  nothing,  and  sit  gasping  on  my  second's 
knee ;  sometimes  I  go  in  at  the  butcher  madly,  and  cut  my  knuckles 
open  against  his  face,  without  appearing  to  discompose  him  at  all. 
At  last  I  awake,  very  queer  about  the  head,  as  from  a  giddy  sleep, 
and  see  the  butcher  walking  off,  congratulated  by  the  two  other 
butchers  and  the  sweep  and  publican,  and  putting  on  his  coat  as  he 
goes ;  from  which  I  augur,  justly,  that  the  \'ictory  is  his. 

I  am  taken  home  in  a  sad  plight,  and  I  have  beef-steaks  put  to 
my  eyes,  and  am  rubbed  with  vinegar  and  brandy,  and  find  a  great 
white  puffy  place  bursting  out  on  my  upper  hp,  which  swells  im- 
moderately. For  three  or  four  days  I  remain  at  home,  a  very  ill- 
looking  subject,  with  a  green  shade  over  my  eyes  ;  and  I  should  be 
very  dull,  but  that  Agnes  is  a  sister  to  me,  and  condoles  with  me, 
and  reads  to  me,  and  makes  the  time  light  and  happy.  Agnes  has 
my  confidence  completely,  always  ;  I  tell  her  all  about  the  butcher, 
and  the  wrongs  he  has  heaped  upon  me  ;  and  she  thinks  I  couldn't 
have  done  otherwise  than  fight  the  butcher,  while  she  shrinks  and 
trembles  at  my  ha^^ng  fought  him. 

Time  has  stolen  on  unobserved,  for  Adams  is  not  the  head-boy  in 
the  days  that  are  come  now,  nor  has  he  been  this  many  and  many  a 
day.  Adams  has  left  the  school  so  long,  that  when  he  comes  back, 
on  a  visit  to  Doctor  Strong,  there  are  not  many  there,  besides  myself, 
who  know  him.  Adams  is  going  to  be  called  to  the  bar  almost 
directly,  and  is  to  be  an  advocate,  and  to  wear  a  wig.  I  am  sur- 
prised to  find  him  a  meeker  man  than  I  had  thought,  and  less  Im- 
posing in  ajDpearance.  He  has  not  staggered  the  world  yet,  either  ; 
for  it  goes  on  (as  well  as  I  can  make  out)  pretty  much  the  same  as 
if  he  had  never  joined  it. 

A  blank,  through  which  the  warriors  of  poetry  and  history  march 
on  in  stately  hosts  that  seem  to  have  no  end — and  what  comes  next  I 
I  am  the  head  boy,  now  ;  and  look  down  on  the  hne  of  boys  below 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  3  3 

me,  with  a  condescending  interest  in  such  of  them  as  bring  to  my 
mind  the  boy  I  was  myself,  when  I  first  came  there.  That  httle 
fellow  seems  to  be  no  part  of  me  ;  I  remember  him  as  something 
left  behind  upon  the  road  of  life — as  something  I  have  passed,  rather 
than  have  actually  been — and  almost  think  of  him  as  of  some  one 
else. 

And  the  little  girl  I  saw  on  that  first  day  at  Mr.  Wickfield's, 
where  is  she  ?  Gone  also.  In  her  stead,  the  perfect  likeness  of  the 
picture,  a  child  likeness  no  more,  moves  about  the  house ;  and 
Agnes — my  sweet  sister,  as  I  call  her  in  my  thoughts,  my  counsellor 
and  Iriend,  the  better  angel  of  the  li\es  of  all  who  come  within  her 
calm,  good,  self-denying  influence — is  quite  a  woman. 

What  other  changes  have  come  upon  me,  besides  the  changes  in 
my  growth  and  looks,  and  in  the  knowledge  I  have  garnered  all 
this  while  ?  I  wear  a  gold  watch  and  chain,  a  ring  upon  my  little 
finger,  and  a  long-tailed  coat ;  and  I  use  a  great  deal  of  bear's 
grease — which,  taken  in  conjunction  with  the  ring,  looks  bad.  Am 
I  in  love  again  ?     I  am.     I  worship  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins. 

The  eldest  Miss  Larkins  is  not  a  httle  girl.  She  is  a  tall,  dark, 
black-eyed,  fine  figure  of  a  woman.  The  eldest  Miss  Larkins  is  not 
a  chicken  ;  for  the  youngest  Miss  Larkins  is  not  that,  and  the  eldest 
must  be  three  or  four  years  older.  Perhaps  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins 
may  be  about  thirty.     My  passion  for  her  is  beyond  all  bounds. 

The  eldest  Miss  Larkins  knows  officers.  It  is  an  awful  thing  to 
bear.  I  see  them  speaking  to  her  in  the  street.  I  see  them  cross 
the  way  to  meet  her,  when  her  bonnet  (she  has  a  bright  ta-ste  in 
bonnets)  is  seen  coming  down  the  pavement,  accompanied  by  her 
sister's  bonnet.  She  laughs  and  talks,  and  seems  to  hke  it.  I  spend 
a  good  deal  of  my  own  spare  time  in  walking  up  and  down  to  meet 
her.  If  I  can  bow  to  her  once  in  the  day  (I  know  her  to  bow  to, 
knowing  Mr.  Larkins),  I  am  happier.  I  deserve  a  bow  now  and 
then.  The  raging  agonies  I  suffer  on  the  night  of  the  Race  Ball, 
where  I  know  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins  will  be  dancing  with  the 
mihtary,  ought  to  have  some  compensation,  if  there  be  even-handed 
'ustice  in  the  world. 

My  passion  takes  away  my  appetite,  and  makes  me  wear  my 
newest  sUk  neck-kerchief  continually.     I  have  no  rehef  but  in  put- 


814  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

ting  on  my  best  clothes,  and  having  my  boots  cleaned  over  and  ovei 
again.  I  seem,  then,  to  be  worthier  of  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins. 
Everything  that  belongs  to  her,  or  is  connected  with  her,  is  precious 
to  me.  Mr.  Larkins  (a  gruff  old  gentleman  with  a  double  chin, 
and  one  of  his  eyes  immovable  in  his  head)  is  fraught  with  interest 
to  me.  When  I  can't  meet  his  daughter,  I  go  where  I  am  likely  to 
meet  him.  To  say  "How  do  you  do,  Mr.  Larkins?  Are  the 
young  ladies  and  all  the  family  quite  well  ? "  seems  so  pointed,  that 
I  blush. 

I  think  continually  about  my  age.  Say  I  am  seventeen,  and  say 
that  seventeen  is  young  for  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins,  what  of  that  ? 
Besides,  I  shall  be  one-and-twenty  in  no  time  almost.  I  regularly 
take  walks  outside  Mr.  Larkins's  house  in  the  evening,  though  it  cuts 
me  to  the  heart  to  see  the  officers  go  in,  or  to  hear  them  up  in  the 
drawing-room,  where  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins  plays  the  harp.  I 
even  walk,  on  two  or  three  occasions,  in  a  sickly,  spoony  manner, 
round  and  round  the  house  after  the  family  are  gone  to  bed,  won- 
dering which  is  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins's  chamber  (and  pitching,  I 
dare  say  now,  on  Mr.  Larkins's  instead) ;  wishing  that  a  fire  would 
burst  out ;  that  the  assembled  crowd  would  stand  appalled ;  that  I, 
dashing  through  them  with  a  ladder,  might  rear  it  against  her 
window,  save  her  in  my  arms,  go  back  for  something  she  had  left 
behind,  and  perish  in  the  flames.  For  I  am  generally  disinterested 
in  my  love,  and  think  I  could  be  content  to  make  a  figure  before 
Miss  Larkins,  and  expire. 

— Generally,  but  not  always.  Sometimes  brighter  ^^sions  rise 
before  me.  When  I  dj*ess  (the  occupation  of  two  hours),  for  a  great 
ball  given  at  the  Larkins's  (the  anticipation  of  three  weeks),  I  indulge 
my  fancy  with  pleasing  images.  I  picture  myself  taking  courage  to 
make  a  declaration  to  Miss  Larkins.  I  picture  Miss  Larkins  sinking 
her  head  upon  my  shoulder,  and  saying,  "  Oh,  Mr.  Copperfield,  can 
I  believe  my  ears!"  I  picture  Mr.  Larkins  waiting  on  me  next 
morning  and  saying,  "  My  dear  Copperfield,  my  daughter  has  told 
me  all.  Youth  is  no  objection.  Here  are  twenty  thousand  pounds. 
Be  happy !"  I  picture  my  aunt  relenting  and  blessing  us  ;  and  Mr, 
Dick  and  Doctor  Strong  being  present  at  the  marriage  ceremony. 
1  am  a  sensible  fellow,  I  believe — I  believe,  on  looking  back,  I  mean 
—and  modest  I  am  sure ;  but  all  this  goes  on  notwithstanding. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  315 

I  repair  to  the  enchanted  house,  where  there  are  lights,  chatter- 
ing, music,  flowers,  ofiicei-s  (I  am  sorry  to  see),  and  the  eldest  Miss 
Larkins,  a  blaze  of  beauty.  She  is  dressed  in  blue,  with  blue  flowers 
in  her  hair — forget-me-nots — as  if  she  had  any  need  to  wear  forget- 
me-nots  !  It  is  the  fii-st  really  grown-up  party  that  I  have  ever  been 
invited  to,  and  I  am  a  httle  uncomfortable ;  for  I  appear  not  to 
belong  to  anybody,  and  nobody  appears  to  have  anything  to  say  to 
me,  except  Mr.  Larkins,  who  asks  me  how  my  schoolfellows  are, 
which  he  needn't  do,  as  I  have  not  come  there  to  be  insulted.  But 
after  I  have  stood  in  the  doorway  for  some  time,  and  feasted  my 
eyes  upon  the  goddess  of  my  heart,  she  approaches  me — she,  the 
eldest  Miss  Larkins ! — and  asks  me,  pleasantly,  if  I  dance. 

I  stammer,  with  a  bow,  "  With  you.  Miss  Larkins." 

"  With  no  one  else  ?"  enquires  Miss  Larkins. 

"  I  should  have  no  pleasure  in  dancing  with  any  one  else." 

Miss  Larkins  laughs  and  blushes  (or  I  think  she  blushes),  and 
&a}  s,  "  Next  time  but  one,  I  shall  be  very  glad." 

The  time  arrives.  "  It  is  a  waltz,  I  think,"  Miss  Larkins  doubt- 
fully observes,  when  I  present  myself.  "  Do  you  waltz  ?  K  not, 
Captain  Bailey  — " 

But  I  do  waltz  (pretty  well,  too,  as  it  happens),  and  I  take  Miss 
Larkins  out.  I  take  her  sternly  fi'om  the  side  of  Captain  Bailey. 
He  is  wretched,  I  have  no  doubt ;  but  he  is  nothing  to  me.  I  have 
been  wretched,  too.  I  waltz  with  the  eldest  Miss  I^arkins  !  I  don't 
know  where,  among  whom,  or  how  long.  I  only  know  that  I  swim 
about  in  space,  with  a  blue  angel,  in  a  state  of  blissful  delirium, 
until  I  find  myself  alone  with  her  in  a  little  room,  resting  on  a  sofa. 
She  admires  a  flower  (pink  camelia  japonica,  price  half-a-crown),  in 
my  button  hole.     I  give  it  her,  and  say : 

"  I  ask  an  inestimable  price  for  it,  Afiss  Larkins." 

"  Indeed  !     WHbat  is  that  ?"  returns  Miss  Larkins. 

"  A  flower  of  yours,  that  I  may  treasure  it  as  a  miser  does  gold." 

"  You  're  a  bold  boy,"  says  Miss  Larkins.     "  There." 

She  gives  it  me,  not  displeased  ;  and  I  put  it  to  my  lips,  and  then 
into  my  breast.  Miss  Larkins,  laughing,  draws  her  hand  through 
my  arm,  and  says,  "  Now  take  me  back  to  Captain  Bailey." 

I  am  lost  in  the  recollection  of  this  delicious  interview,  and  the 


316  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

waltz,  when  she  comes  to  me  again,  with  a  plain  elderly  gentleman, 
who  has  been  playing  whist  all  night,  upon  her  arm,  and  says  : 

"  O  !  here  is  my  bold  friend  !  Mr.  Chestle  wants  to  know  you, 
Mr.  Copperfield." 

I  feel  at  once  that  he  is  a  friend  of  the  family,  and  am  much 
gratified. 

"  I  admire  your  taste,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Chestle.  "  It  does  you  credit. 
I  suppose  you  don't  take  much  interest  in  hops  ;  but  I  am  a  pretty 
large  grower  myself ;  and  if  you  ever  like  to  come  over  to  our  neigh- 
bourhood— neighbourhood  of  Ashford — and  take  a  run  about  our 
place,  we  shall  be  glad  for  you  to  stop  as  long  as  you  like." 

I  thank  Mr.  Chestle  warmly,  and  shake  hands.  I  think  I  am  in 
a  happy  dream.  I  waltz  with  the  eldest  Miss  Larkins  once  again — 
she  says  I  waltz  so  well !  I  go  home  in  a  state  of  unspeakable  bliss, 
and  waltz,  in  imagination,  all  night  long,  with  my  arm  round  the 
blue  waist  of  my  dear  di\'inity.  For  some  days  afterwards,  I  am  lost 
in  rapturous  reflections  ;  but  I  neither  see  her  in  the  street,  nor  when 
I  call.  I  am  imperfectly  consoled  for  this  disappointment  by  the 
sacred  pledge,  the  perished  flower. 

"  Trotwood,"  says  Agnes,  one  day  after  dinner.  "  Who  do  you 
think  is  going  to  be  married  to-morrow  ?      Some  one  you  admire." 

"  Not  you,  I  suppose,  Agnes  ?" 

"  Not  me  !"  raising  her  cheerful  face  from  the  music  she  is  copying. 
*'  Do  you  hear  him,  Papa  ? — The  eldest  Miss  Larkins." 

"  To — ^to  Captain  Bailey  ?"  I  have  just  power  enough  to  ask. 

**  No ;  to  no  Captain.     To  Mr.  Chestle,  a  hop-grower." 

I  am  terribly  dejected  for  about  a  week  or  two.  I  take  off  my 
ring,  I  wear  my  worst  clothes,  I  use  no  bear's  grease,  and  I  frequently 
lament  over  the  late  Miss  Larkins's  faded  flower.  Being,  by  that 
time,  rather  tired  of  this  kind  of  life,  and  having  received  new  provo- 
cation from  the  butcher,  I  throw  the  flower  away,  go  out  with  the 
butcher,  and  gloriously  defeat  him. 

This,  and  the  resumption  of  my  ring,  as  well  as  of  the  bear's 
grease  in  moderation,  are  the  last  marks  I  can  discern,  now,  in  my 
progress  to  seventeen. 


CHAPTER  XIX. 

I    LOOK    ABOUT    ME,    AND    MAKE    A    DISCOVERY. 

I  AM  doubtful  whether  I  was  at  heart  glad  or  sorry,  when  my 
school-days  drew  to  an  end,  and  the  time  came  for  my  leaving 
Doctor  Strong's.  I  had  been  very  happy  there,  I  had  a  great  at- 
tachment for  the  Doctor,  and  I  was  eminent  and  distinguished  in 
that  little  world.  For  these  reasons  I  was  sorry  to  go  ;  but  for  other 
reasons,  unsubstantial  enough,  I  was  glad.  Misty  ideas  of  being  a 
young  man  at  my  o'vmi  disjjosal,  of  the  importance  attaching  to  a 
young  man  at  his  own  disposal,  of  the  wonderful  things  to  be  seen 
and  done  by  that  magnificent  animal,  and  the  wonderful  effects  he 
could  not  fail  to  make  upon  society,  lured  me  away.  So  powerful 
were  these  visionary  considerations  in  my  boyish  mind,  that  I  seem, 
according  to  my  present  way  of  thinking,  to  have  left  school  without 
natural  regret.  The  separation  has  not  made  the  impression  on  me, 
that  other  separations  have.  I  try  in  vain  to  recal  how  I  felt  about 
it,  and  what  its  circumstances  were ;  but  it  is  not  momentous  in  my 
recollection.  I  suppose  the  opening  prospect  confused  me.  I  know 
that  my  juvenile  experiences  went  for  little  or  nothing  then ;  and 
that  life  was  more  like  a  great  fairy  story,  which  I  was  just  about  to 
oegin  to  read,  than  anything  else. 

My  aunt  and  I  had  held  many  grave  deliberations  on  the  callino^ 
to  which  I  should  be  devoted.  For  a  year  or  more  I  had  en- 
deavoured to  find  a  satisfactory  answer  to  her  often-repeated  ques- 
tion, "  What  I  would  like  to  be  ?"  But  I  had  no  particular  liking, 
that  I  could  discover,  for  anything.  If  I  could  have  been  inspired 
with  a  knowledge  of  the  science  of  navigation,  taken  the  command 
of  a  fast-sailing  expedition,  and  gone  round  the  world  on  a  triumph- 
ant voyage  of  discovery,  I  think  I  might  have  considered  myself 
completely  suited.     But,  in  the  absence  of  any  sucli  miraculous  pro 

817 


818  ^    DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

vision,  my  desire  was  to  apply  myself  to  some  pursuit  that  would  not 
lie  too  heavily  upon  her  purse ;  and  to  do  my  duty  in  it,  whatever  it 
might  be. 

Mr.  Dick  had  regularly  assisted  at  our  councils,  with  a  meditative 
and  sage  demeanour.  He  never  made  a  suggestion  but  once ;  and 
on  that  occasion  (I  don't  know  what  put  it  in  his  head),  he  suddenly 
proposed  that  I  should  be  "  a  Brazier."  My  aunt  received  this  pro- 
posal so  very  ungraciously,  that  he  never  ventured  on  a  second ;  but 
ever  afterwards  confined  himself  to  looking  watchfully  at  her  for  her 
suggestions,  and  rattling  his  money. 

"  Trot,  I  tell  you  what,  my  dear,"  said  my  aunt,  one  morning,  in 
the  Christmas  season  when  I  left  school ;  "  as  this  knotty  point  is  still 
unsettled,  and  as  we  must  not  make  a  mistake  in  our  decision  if  we 
can  help  it,  I  think  we  had  better  take  a  little  breathing-time.  In 
the  meanwhile,  you  must  try  to  look  at  it  fi'om  a  new  point  of  view, 
and  not  as  a  schoolboy." 

"  I  will,  aunt." 

"  It  has  occurred  to  me,"  pursued  my  aunt,  "  that  a  little  change, 
and  a  glimpse  of  life  out  of  doors,  may  be  useful,  in  helping  you  to 
know  your  own  mind,  and  form  a  cooler  judgment.  Suppose  you 
were  to  take  a  little  journey  now.  Suppose  you  were  to  go  down 
into  the  old  part  of  the  country  again,  for  instance,  and  see  that — 
that  out-of-the-way  woman  with  the  savagest  of  names,"  said  my 
aunt,  rubbing  her  nose,  for  she  could  never  thoroughly  forgive  Peg- 
gotty  for  being  so  called. 

"  Of  all  things  in  the  world,  aunt,  I  should  like  it  best !" 

"  Well,"  said  my  aunt,  "  that's  lucky,  for  I  should  like  it  too.  But 
it 's  natural  and  rational  that  you  should  like  it.  And  I  am  very 
well  persuaded  that  whatever  you  do,  Trot,  will  always  be  natural 
and  rational." 

"  I  hope  so,  aunt." 

"  Your  sister,  Betsey  Trotwood,"  said  my  aunt,  "  would  havej)een 
as  natural  and  rational  a  girl  as  ever  breathed.  You  '11  be  worthy 
of  her,  won't  you  ?" 

"  I  hope  I  shall  be  worthy  of  you,  aunt.  That  will  be  enough  for 
mc." 

"  It 's  a  mercy  that  poor  dear  baby  of  a  mother  of  yours  didn't 


DAVID    COrPERFlELD.  819 

live,"  said  my  aunt,  looking  at  me  approvingly,  "  or  she'd  have  been 
so  vain  of  her  boy  by  this  time,  that  her  soft  little  head  would  have 
been  completely  turned,  if  there  was  anything  of  it  left  to  tuni." 
(My  aunt  always  excused  any  weakness  of  her  own  in  my  behalf,  by 
transferring  it  in  this  way  to  my  poor  mother.)  "  Bless  me,  Trot- 
wood,  how  you  do  remind  me  of  her  ?" 

"  Pleasantly,  I  hope,  aunt  ?"  said  I. 

"  He  's  as  hke  her,  Dick,"  said  my  aunt,  emphatically,  "  he 's  as 
hke  her,  as  she  was  that  afternoon,  before  she  began  to  fret — bless 
my  heart  he  's  as  like  her,  as  he  can  look  at  me  out  of  his  two 
eyes !" 

"  Is  he  indeed  ?"  said  Mr.  Dick. 

"  And  he 's  like  David,  too,"  said  my  aunt,  decisively. 

"  He  is  very  like  David !"  said  Mr.  Dick. 

"  But  what  I  want  you  to  be,  Trot,"  resumed  my  aunt  — "  I  don't 
mean  physically,  but  morally ;  you  are  ver}  well  physically — is,  a 
firm  fellow.  A  fine  firm  fellow,  with  a  will  of  your  own.  With  resolu- 
tion," said  my  aunt,  shaking  her  cap  at  me,  and  clenching  her  hand. 
"  With  determination.  With  character,  Trot — with  streno-th  of 
character  that  is  not  to  be  influenced,  except  on  good  reason,  by  any- 
body, or  by  anything.  That 's  what  I  want  you  to  be.  That 's  what 
your  father  and  mother  might  both  have  been,  Heaven  knows,  and 
been  the  better  for  it." 

I  intimated  that  I  hoped  I  should  be  what  she  described. 

"  That  you  may  begin,  in  a  small  way,  to  have  a  reliance  upoD 
yourself,  and  to  act  for  yourself,"  said  my  aunt,  "  I  sliall  send  you 
upon  your  trip,  alone.  I  did  think,  once,  of  Mr.  Dick's  going  with 
you  ;  but,  on  second  thoughts,  I  shall  keep  him  to  take  care  of  me.'' 

Mr.  Dick,  for  a  moment,  looked  a  little  disappointed ;  until  the 
honor  and  dignity  of  having  to  take  cai'e  of  the  most  wonderful 
woman  in  the  world,  restored  the  sunshine  to  his  face. 

"  Besides,"  said  my  aunt,  "  there  's  the  Memorial — " 

"  Oh,  certainly,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  in  a  hurry,  "  I  intend,  Trotwood, 
to  get  that  done  immediately — it  really  must  be  done  immediately  ! 
And  then  it  \y\\\  go  in,  you  know — and  then,"  said  Mr.  Dick,  after 
checking  himself,  and  pausing  a  long  time,  "  there  '11  be  a  pretty 
k€tti3  of  fish  !" 


820  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

In  pursuance  of  my  aunt's  kind  scheme,  I  was  shortly  after 
wards  fitted  out  with  a  handsome  purse  of  money,  and  a  poi-tman 
teau,  and  tenderly  dismissed  upon  my  expedition.  At  parting,  m) 
aunt  gave  me  some  good  advice,  and  a  good  many  kisses  ;  and  saic 
that  as  her  object  was  that  I  should  look  about  me,  and  should  thinl 
a  little,  she  wauld  recommend  me  to  stay  a  few  days  in  London,  if  1 
liked  it,  either  on  my  way  down  into  Suffolk,  or  in  coming  back 
In  a  word,  I  was  at  liberty  to  do  what  I  would,  for  three  weeks  or  i 
month  ;  and  no  other  conditions  were  imposed  upon  my  freedom  thai 
the  before-mentioned  thinking  and  looking  about  me,  and  a  pledge 
to  write  three  times  a  week  and  faithfully  report  myself. 

I  went  to  Canterbury  first,  that  I  might  take  leave  of  Agnes  and 
Mr.  Wickfield  (my  old  room  in  whose  house  I  had  not  yet  relin- 
quished), and  also  of  the  good  Doctor.  Agnes  was  very  glad  to  see 
me,  and  told  me  that  the  house  had  not  been  like  itself  since  I  hac^ 
left  it. 

"  I  am  sure  I  am  not  like  myself  when  I  am  away,"  said  I.  "  1 
seem  to  want  my  light  hand,  when  I  miss  you.  Though  that's  not 
saying  much  ;  for  there's  no  head  in  my  right  hand,  and  no  heart. 
Every  one  who  knows  you  consults  with  you,  and  is  guided  by  you, 
Agues." 

"  Every  one  who  knows  me,  spoils  me,  I  believe,"  she  answered, 
smiling. 

"  No.  It's  because  you  are  like  no  one  else.  You  are  so  good, 
and  so  sweet-tempered.  You  have  such  a  gentle  nature,  and  you 
are  always  right." 

"  You  talk,"  said  Agnes,  breaking  into  a  pleasant  laugh,  as  she 
sat  at  work,  "  as  if  I  were  the  late  Miss  Larkins." 

"  Come  !  It's  not  fair  to  abuse  my  confidence,"  I  answered,  red- 
dening at  the  recollection  of  my  blue  enslaver.  "  I  )Ut  I  shall  confide 
in  you,  just  the  same,  Agnes.  I  can  never  grow  out  of  that.  When- 
ever I  fall  into  trouble,  or  fall  in  love,  I  shall  always  tell  you,  if 
you'll  let  rile — even  when  I  come  to  fall  in  love  in  earnest." 

"  Why,  you  have  always  been  in  earnest !"  said  Agnes,  laughing 
again. 

"  Oh !  that  was  as  a  child,  or  a  school-boy,"  said  I,  laughing  in 
my  turn,  not  without  being  a  little  sharae-fac3d.     "Times  are  alter 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  821 

ing  now,  and  I  suppose  I  shall  be  in  a  terrible  state  of  earnestness 
one  day  or  other.     My  wonder  is,  that  you  are  not  in  earnest  your 
self,  joy  this  time,  Agnes." 

Agnes  laughed  again,  and  shook  her  head. 

"  Oh,  I  know  you  are  not !"  said  I ;  "  because,  if  you  had  been 
you  would  have  told  me.  Or  at  least," — for  I  saw  a  faint  blush  in 
her  face, — "  you  would  have  let  me  find  it  out  for  myself.  But  there 
is  no  one  that  I  know  of,  who  deserves  to  love  you,  Agnes.  Some 
one  of  a  nobler  character,  and  more  worthy  altogether  than  any  one 
I  have  ever  seen  here,  must  rise  up,  before  I  give  my  consent.  In 
the  time  to  come,  I  shall  have  a  wary  eye  on  all  admirers ;  and  shall 
exact  a  great  deal  from  the  successful  one,  I  assure  you." 

We  had  gone  on,  so  far,  in  a  mixture  of  confidential  jest  and  ear- 
nest, that  had  long  grown  naturally  out  of  our  familiar  relations, 
begun  as  mere  children.  But  Agnes,  now  suddenly  lifting  up  her 
eyes  to  mine,  and  speaking  in  a  different  manner,  said  : 

^'  Trotwood,  there  is  something  that  1  want  to  ask  you,  and  that  I 
may  not  have  another  opportunity  of  asking  for  a  long  time,  perhaps 
— something  I  would  ask,  I  think,  of  no  one  else.  Have  you  ob- 
served any  gradual  alteration  in  Papa  ?" 

I  had  observed  it,  and  had  often  wondered  whether  she  had  too. 
I  must  have  shown  as  much  now,  in  ray  face ;  for  her  eyes  were  in 
a  moment  cast  down,  and  I  saw  tears  in  them. 

"  Tell  D>e  what  it  is,"  she  said,  in  a  low  voice. 

"  I  think — shall  I  be  quite  plain,  Agnes,  hking  him  so  much  ?" 

"  Yes,"  she  said. 

"  I  think  he  does  himself  no  good  by  the  habit  that  has  increased 
upon  him  since  I  first  came  here.  He  is  often  very  nervous — or  I 
fancy  so." 

"  It  is  not  fancy,"  said  Agnes,  shaking  her  head. 

"  His  hand  trembles,  his  speech  is  not  plain,  and  his  eyes  look 
wild.  I  have  remarked  that  at  those  times,  and  when  he  is  least 
like  himself,  he  is  most  certain  to  be  wanted  on  some  business." 

"  By  Uriah,"  said  Agnes. 

"  Yes ;  and  the  sense  of  being  unfit  for  it,  or  of  not  having  under- 
stood it,  or  of  having  shown  his  condition  in  spite  of  himself,  seems 
to  make  him  so   uneasy,  that  m\i  day  he  is  worse,  and  next  daj 

20 


322  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

worse,  and  so  he  becomes  jaded  and  haggard.  Do  not  be  alarmea 
by  what  I  say,  Agnes,  but  in  this  state  I  saw  him,  only  the  othef 
evening,  lay  down  his  head  upon  his  desk,  and  shed  tears  like  a 
child." 

Her  hand  passed  softly  before  my  lips  while  I  was  yet  speaking, 
and  in  a  moment  she  had  met  her  father  at  the  door  of  the  room, 
and  was  hanging  on  his  shoulder.  The  expression  of  her  face,  as 
they  both  looked  towards  me,  I  felt  to  be  very  touching.  There 
was  such  deep  fondness  for  him,  and  gratitude  to  him  for  all  his  love 
and  care,  in  her  beautiful  look ;  and  there  was  such  a  fervent  appeal 
to  me  to  deal  tenderly  by  him,  even  in  my  inmost  thoughts,  and  to 
let  no  harsh  construction  find  any  place  against  him ;  she  was,  at 
once,  so  proud  of  him  and  devoted  to  him,  yet  so  compassionate  and 
sorry,  and  so  reliant  upon  me  to  be  so,  too ;  that  nothing  she  could 
have  said  would  have  expressed  more  to  me,  or  moved  me  more. 

We  were  to  drink  tea  at  the  Doctor's.  We  went  there  at  the 
usual  hour,  and  round  the  study-fireside  found  the  Doctor,  and  his 
young  wife,  and  her  mother.  The  Doctor,  who  made  as  much  of 
my  going  away  as  if  I  were  going  to  China,  received  me  as  an 
honored  guest,  and  called  for  a  log  of  wood  to  be  thrown  on  the  fire, 
that  he  might  see  the  face  of  his  old  pupil  reddening  in  the  blaze. 

"  I  shall  not  see  many  more  new  faces  in  Trotwood's  stead.  Wick- 
field,"  said  the  Doctor,  warming  his  hands;  "I  am  getting  lazy,  and 
want  ease.  I  shall  relinquish  all  my  young  people  in  another  six 
months,  and  lead  a  quieter  hfe." 

•'  You  have  said  so,  any  time  these  ten  years,  Doctor,"  Mr.  Wick- 
field  answered. 

"  But  now  I  mean  to  do  it,"  returned  the  Doctor.  "  My  first 
master  will  succeed  me — I  am  in  earnest  at  last — so  you'll  soon  have 
to  arrange  our  contracts,  and  to  bind  us  firmly  to  them,  like  a  couple 
of  knaves." 

"  And  to  take  care,"  said  Mr.  Wickfield,  "  that  you're  not  imposed 
on,  eh  ? — as  you  certainly  would  be,  in  any  contract  you  should 
make  for  yourself.  Well !  I  am  ready.  There  are  worse  tasks  than 
that,  in  my  calhng." 

"  I  shall  have  nothing  to  think  of  then,"  said  the  Doctor,  with  a 
smile,  "  but  my  Dictionary  ;  and  this  other  contract-bargain — 
Annie." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  828 

As  Mr.  Wickfiekl  glanced  towaids  her,  sitting  at  the  tea-table  by 
Agnes,  she  seemed  tome  to  avoid  his  look  with  such  unwonted  hesi- 
tation and  timidity,  that  his  attention  became  fixed  upon  her,  as  if 
something  were  suggested  to  his  thoughts. 

"  There  is  a  post  come  in  from  India,  I  observe,"  he  said,  after  a 
short  silence. 

"  By-the-by !  and  letters  from  Mr.  Jack  Maldon !"  said  the  Doctor-. 

"Indeed?" 

"  Poor  dear  Jack !"  said  Mrs.  Markleham,  shaking  her  head. 
"  That  trying  climate  ! — like  living,  they  tell  me,  on  a  sand-heap, 
underneath  a  burning-glass  !  He  looked  strong,  but  he  wasn't.  My 
dear  Doctor,  it  was  his  spmt,  not  his  constitution,  that  he  ventured 
on  so  boldly.  Annie,  my  dear,  I  am  sure  you  must  perfectly  recol- 
lect that  your  cousin  never  was  strong — not  what  can  be  called 
robust,  you  know,"  said  Mrs.  Markleham,  with  emphasis,  and  looking 
round  upon  us  generally — "  from  the  time  when  my  daughter  and 
himself  were  children  together,  and  walking  about,  arm  in  arm,  the 
livelong  day." 

Ajinie,  thus  addressed,  made  no  reply. 

"  Do  I  gather  from  what  you  say,  ma'am,  that  Mi*.  Maldon  is  ill  ?'* 
asked  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  111  ?"  rephed  the  Old  Soldier.  "  My  dear  sir,  he  is  all  sorts  of 
things." 

"Except  well?"  said  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  Except  well,  indeed  !"  said  the  Old  Soldier.      "  He  has  had 
dreadful  strokes  of  the  sun,  no  doubt,  and  jungle  fevers  and  agues, 
and  every  kind  of  thing  you  can  mention.     As  to  his  liver,"  said  the 
Old  Soldier  resignedly,  "  that,  of  course,  he  gave  up  altogether,  whea. 
he  first  went  out !" 

"  Does  he  say  all  this  ?"  asked  Mr.  Wickfield. 

"  Say  ?  My  dear  sir,"  returned  Mrs.  Markleham,  shaking  her  head 
and  her  fan,  "  you  Uttle  know  my  poor  Jack  Maldon  when  you  ask 
that  question.  Say  ?  Not  he.  You  might  drag  him  at  the  heels 
of  four  wild  horses  first." 

"  Mama !"  said  Mrs.  Strong. 

"  Annie,  my  dear,"  returned  her  mother,  "  once  for  all,  I  must 
really  beg  that  you  will  Lot  interfere  with  me,  unless  it  is  to  ooufirm 


824  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

what  I  say.  You  know  as  well  as  I  do,  that  your  cousin  MalJon 
would  be  dragged  at  the  heels  of  any  number  of  wild  horses — why 
should  I  confine  myself  to  four  !  I  wonH  confine  myself  to  four — 
eight,  sixteen,  two-and-thirty,  rather  than  say  anj^thing  calculated 
to  overturn  the  Doctor's  plans." 

"  Wickfield's  plans,"  said  the  Doctor,  stroking  his  face,  and  looking 
penitently  at  his  adviser.  "  That  is  to  say,  our  joint  plans  for  him. 
I  said  myself,  abroad  or  at  home." 

"  And  I  said,"  added  Mr.  Wickfield  gi-avely,  "  abroad.  I  was  the 
means  of  sending  him  abroad.     It's  my  responsibility." 

"  Oh  !  Responsibihty  !"  said  the  Old  Soldier.  "  Ev^erything  was 
done  for  the  best,  my  dear  Mi-.  Wickfield  ;  everything  was  done  for 
the  kindest  and  best,  we  know.  But  if  the  dear  fellow  can't  live 
there,  he  can't  live  there.  And  if  he  can't  live  there,  he'll  die  there, 
sooner  than  he'll  overturn  the  Doctor's  plans.  I  know  him,"  said 
the  Old  Soldier,  fanning  herself,  in  a  sort  of  calm  prophetic  agony, 
"  and  I  know  he'll  die  there,  sooner  than  he'll  overturn  the  Doctor's 
plans." 

"  Well,  well,  ma'am,"  said  the  Doctor,  cheerfully,  "  I  am  not 
bigoted  to  my  plans,  and  I  can  overturn  them  myself.  I  can  substi- 
tute some  other  plans.  If  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  comes  home  on  account 
of  ill  health,  he  must  not  be  allowed  to  go  back,  and  we  must  endea- 
vour to  make  some  more  suitable  and  fortunate  provision  for  him  in 
this  country.^    - 

Mrs.  Markleham  was  so  overcome  by  this  generous  speech — 
which,  I  need  not  say,  she  had  not  at  all  expected  or  led  up  to — that 
she  could  only  tell  the  Doctor  it  was  like  himself,  and  go  several 
times  through  that  operation  of  kissing  the  sticks  of  her  fan,  and  then 
tapping  his  hand  with  it.  After  which  she  gently  chid  her 
daughter  Annie,  for  not  being  more  demonstrative  when  such  kind- 
nesses were  showered,  for  her  sake,  on  her  old  playfellow ;  and 
entertained  us  with  some  particulars  concerning  other  deserving 
members  of  her  family,  whom  it  was  desirable  to  set  on  their  deserv- 
ing legs. 

All  this  time,  her  daughter  Annie  never  once  spoke,  or  hfted  up 
her  eyes.  All  this  time,  Mr.  Wickfield  had  his  glance  upon  her  as 
she  sat  by  his  own  daughter's  side.     It  appeared  to  me  that  he  never 


DAVID     COrrERFIELD.  325 

thought  of  hi'mg  observed  by  any  one  ;  but  was  so  intent  upon  her, 
and  upon  his  own  thoughts  in  connexion  with  her,  as  to  be  quite 
absorbed.  He  now  asked  what  Mr.  Jack  Maldon  had  actually 
written  in  reference  to  himself,  and  to  whom  he  had  written  it  ? 

"  Why,  here,"  said  Mi*s.  Markleham,  taking  a  letter  from  the 
chimney-piece  above  the  Doctor's  head,  "  the  dear  fellow  says  to  the 
Doctor  himself — where  is  it?  Oh! — 'I  am  sorry  to  inform  you  that 
my  health  is  suffering  severely,  and  that  I  fear  I  may  be  reduced  to 
the  necessity  of  returning  home  for  a  time,  as  the  only  hope  of 
restoration.'  That's  pretty  plain,  poor  fellow !  His  only  hope  of 
restoration !  But  Annie's  letter  is  plainer  still.  Annie,  show  me 
that  letter  again." 

"  Not  now,  mama,"  she  pleaded  in  a  low  tone. 

"My  dear,  you  absolutely  are,  on  some  subjects,  one  of  the  most 
ridiculous  persons  in  the  world,"  returned  her  mother,  "  and  perhaps 
the  most  unnatural  to  the  claims  of  your  own  family.  We  never 
should  have  heard  of  the  letter  at  all,  I  believe,  unless  I  had  asked 
for  it  myself  Do  you  call  that  confidence,  my  lov^e,  towards  Doctor 
Strong  ?     I  am  surprised.     You  ought  to  know  better." 

The  letter  was  reluctantly  produced ;  and  as  I  handed  it  to  the 
old  lady,  I  saw  how  the  unwilling  hand  from  which  I  took  it, 
trembled. 

"  Now  let  us  see,"  said  Mrs.  Markleham,  putting  her  glass  to  her 
eye,  "  where  the  passage  is.  '  The  remembrance  of  old  times,  my 
dearest  Annie — and  so  forth — it's  not  there.  'The  amiable  old 
Proctor' — who's  he  ?  Dear  me,  Annie,  how  illegibly  your  cousin 
Maldon  writes,  and  how  stupid  I  am  !  '  Doctor,'  of  course.  Ah  ! 
amiable  indeed  !"  Here  she  left  off,  to  kiss  her  fan  again,  and  shake 
it  at  the  Doctor,  who  was  looking  at  us  in  a  state  of  placid  satisfac- 
tion. "  Now  I  have  found  it,  '  Vou  may  not  be  surprised  to  hear, 
Annie' — no,  to  be  sure,  knowing  that  he  never  was  really  strong; 
what  did  I  say  just  now  ? — '  that  I  have  undergone  so  much  in  this 
distant  place,  as  to  have  decided  to  leave  it  at  all  hazards ;  on  sick 
^eave,  if  I  can  ;  on  total  resignation,  if  that  is  not  to  be  obtained. 
What  I  have  endured,  and  do  endure  here,  is  insupportable.'  And 
but  for  the  promptitude  of  that  best  of  creatures,"  said  Mrs.  Markle 


326  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

ham,  telegraphing  the  Doctor  as  before,  and  r(  folding  the  letter,  "  it 
would  be  insupportable  to  me  to  think  of." 

Mr.  Wickfield  said  not  one  word,  though  the  old  lady  looked  to 
him  as  if  for  his  commentary  on  this  intelligence ;  but  sat  severely 
silent,  with  his  eyes  fixed  on  the  ground.  Long  after  the  subject 
was  dismissed,  and  other  topics  occupied  us,  he  remained  so ;  seldom 
raising  his  eyes,  unless  to  rest  them  for  a  moment,  with  a  thoughtful 
frown,  upon  the  Doctor,  or  his  wife,  or  both. 

The  Doctor  was  very  fond  of  music.  Agnes  sang  with  great 
sweetness  and  expression,  and  so  did  Mrs.  Strong.  They  sang 
together,  and  played  duets  together,  and  we  had  quite  a  little  con- 
cert. But  I  remarked  two  things :  first,  that  though  Annie  soon 
recovered  her  composure,  and  was  quite  herself,  there  was  a  blank 
between  her  and  Mr.  Wickfield  which  separated  them  wholly  fi-om 
each  other ;  secondly,  that  Mr.  Wickfield  seemed  to  dislike  the  inti- 
macy between  her  and  Agnes,  and  to  watch  it  with  uneasiness. 
And  now,  I  must  confess,  the  recollection  of  what  I  had  seen  on  that 
night  when  Mr.  Mai  don  went  away,  first  began  to  return  upon  me 
with  a  meaning  it  had  never  had,  and  to  trouble  me.  The  innocent 
beauty  of  her  face  was  not  as  innocent  to  me  as  it  had  been ;  I  mis- 
trusted the  natural  grace  and  charm  of  her  manner ;  and  when  I 
looked  at  Agnes  by  her  side,  and  thought  how  good  and  true  Agnes 
was,  suspicions  arose  within  me  that  it  was  an  ill-assorted  friend- 
ship. 

She  was  so  happy  in  it  herself,  however,  and  the  other  was  so 
happy  too,  that  they  made  the  evening  fly  away  as  if  it  were  but 
an  hour.  It  closed  in  an  incident  which  I  well  remember.'  They 
were  taking  leave  of  each  other,  and  Agnes  was  going  to  embrace 
her  and  kiss  her,  when  Mr.  Wickfield  stepped  between  them,  as  if 
by  accident,  and  drew  Agnes  quickly  away.  Then  I  saw,  as  though 
all  the  intervening  time  had  been  cancelled,  and  I  were  still  standing 
in  the  doorway  on  the  night  of  the  departure,  the  expression  of  that 
flight  in  the  face  of  Mrs.  Strong,  as  it  confronted  his. 

I  cannot  say  what  an  impression  this  made  upon  me,  or  how 
nn})ossible  I  found  it,  when  I  thought  of  her  afterwards,  to  separate 
her  from  this  look,  and  remember  her  face  in  its  innocent  loveliness 
again.     It  haunted  me  when  I  snot  home.     I  seemed  to  have  left 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  327 

the  Doctors  roof  with  a  dark  cloud  lovvei'ing  on  it.  Tlie  reverence 
that  I  had  for  his  grey  head,  was  mingled  with  commiseration  for 
his  faith  in  those  who  were  treacherous  to  him,  and  with  resentment 
against  those  who  injured  him.  The  impending  shadow  of  a  great 
affliction,  and  a  great  disgrace  that  had  no  distinct  form  in  it  yet,  fdl 
hke  a  stain  upon  the  quiet  place  where  I  had  worked  and  played  as 
a  boy,  and  did  it  a  cruel  wrong.  I  had  no  pleasure  in  thinking,  any 
more,  of  the  grave  old  broad-leaved  aloe-trees  which  remained  shut 
up  in  themselves  a  hundred  years  together,  and  of  the  trim,  smooth 
grass-plot,  and  the  stone  urns,  and  the  Doctor's  walk,  and  the  con- 
genial sound  of  the  Cathedral  bell  hovering  above  them  all.  It  was 
as  if  the  tranquil  sanctuary  of  my  boyhood  had  been  sacked  before 
my  face,  and  its  peace  and  honor  given  to  the  winds. 

But  morning  brought  with  it  my  parting  fi'om  the  old  house, 
which  Agnes  had  filled  with  her  influence ;  and  that  occupied  my 
mind  sufficiently.  I  should  be  there  again  soon,  no  doubt ;  I  might 
sleep  again — perhaps  often — in  my  old  room ;  but  the  days  of  my 
inhabiting  there  were  gone,  and  the  old  time  was  past.  I  was 
heavier  at  heart  when  I  packed  up  such  of  my  books  and  cl<jthes  as 
still  remained  there  to  be  sent  to  Dover,  than  I  cared  to  show  to 
Uriah  Heep :  who  was  so  officious  to  help  me,  that  I  uncharitably 
thought  him  mighty  glad  that  I  was  going. 

I  got  away  from  Agnes  and  her  father,  somehow,  with  an  indiffe- 
rent show  of  being  very  manly,  and  took  my  seat  upon  the  box  of 
the  London  coach.  I  was  so  softened  and  forgiving,  going  through 
the  town,  that  I  had  half  a  mind  to  nod  to  my  old  enemy  the 
butcher,  and  throw  him  five  shillings  to  drink.  But  he  looked  such 
a  very  obdurate  butcher  as  he  stood  scraping  the  gi*eat  block  in  the 
shop,  and  moreover,  his  appear;'.nce  was  so  httle  improved  by  the 
loss  of  a  front  tooth  which  I  had  Knocked  out,  that  I  thought  it  best 
to  make  no  advances. 

The  main  object  on  my  mind,  I  remember,  when  we  got  fairly  on 
the  road,  was  to  appear  as  old  as  possible  to  the  coachman,  and  to 
speak  extremely  gruft'.  The  latter  point  I  achieved  at  great  personal 
inconvenience ;  but  I  stuck  to  it,  because  I  felt  it  was  a  grown-up 
•ort  of  thing. 

"  You  are  going  through,  fu*  ?"  said  the  coaclim.aii. 


828  DAVID     COPPERFIELD. 

"  Yes,  "William,"  I  said,  condescendingly  (I  knew  him) ;  "I  am 
going  to  London.     I  shall  go  down  into  Suffolk  afterwards." 

"  Shooting,  sir  ?"  said  the  coachman. 

He  knew  as  well  as  I  did  that  it  was  just  as  likely,  at  that  time 
of  year,  I  was  going  down  there  whaling ;  but  I  felt  complimented, 
too. 

"  I  don't  know,"  I  said,  pretending  to  be  undecided,  "  whether  1 
shall  take  a  shot  or  not." 

"  Birds  is  got  wery  shy,  I  'm  told,"  said  William. 

"  So  I  understand,"  said  I. 

"  Is  Suflfolk  your  county,  sir  ?"  asked  William. 

"  Yes,"  I  said,  with  some  importance,  "  Suffolk  's  my  county." 

"I  'm  told  the  dumplings  is  uncommon  fine  down  there,"  said 
William. 

I  was  not  aware  of  it  myself,  but  I  felt  it  necessary  to  uphold  the 
institutions  of  my  county,  and  to  evince  a  familiarity  with  them ;  so 
I  shook  my  head,  as  much  as  to  say  "  I  beheve  you  !" 

"  .Vnd  the  Puncnes,"  said  Wilham.  "  There  's  cattle  !  A  Suffolk 
Punch,  when  he  's  a  good  un,  is  worth  his  weight  in  gold.  Did 
you  ever  breed  any  Suffolk  Punches  yourself,  sir  ?" 

"  N — no,"  I  said,  "  not  exactly." 

"  Here  's  a  gen'lm'n  behind  me,  I  '11  pound  it,"  said  WiUiam,  "  as 
has  bred  'em  by  wholesale." 

The  gentleman  spoken  of  was  a  gentleman  with  a  very  unpromis- 
ing squint,  and  a  prominent  chin,  who  had  a  tall  white  hat  on  with 
a  narrow  flat  brim,  and  whose  close-fitting  drab  trousere  seemed  to 
button  all  the  way  up  outside  his  legs  from  his  boots  to  his  hips. 
His  chin  was  cocked  over  the  coachman's  shoulder,  so  near  to  me, 
that  his  breath  quite  tickled  the  back  of  my  head  ;  and  as  I  looked 
round  at  him,  he  leered  at  the  leaders  with  the  eye  with  which  he 
didn't  squint,  in  a  very  knowing  manner. 

"Ain't  you  ?"  said  William. 

"  Ain't  I  what  ?"  asked  the  gentleman  behind. 

"  Bred  them  Suffolk  Punches  by  wholesale  ?" 

"  I  should  think  so,"  said  the  gentleman.  "  There  ain't  no  sort 
of  orse  that  I  ain't  bred,  and  no  sort  of  dorg.  Orses  and  dorgs  is 
some  men's  fancy.     They're  wittles  and  diink  to  me — lodging,  wife, 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  329 

and  children — reading,  writing,  and  'rithmetic — snuflf,  tobacker,  and 
sleep." 

"  That  ain't  a  sort  of  man  to  see  sitting  behind  a  coach-box,  is  it 
though  ?"  said  William  in  my  ear,  as  he  handled  the  reins. 

I  construed  this  remark  into  an  indication  of  a  wish  that  he  should 
have  my  place,  so  I  blushingly  offered  to  resign  it. 

"  Well,  if  you  don't  mind,  sir,"  said  Wilham,  "  I  think  it  would 
be  more  correct." 

I  have  always  considered  this  as  the  fii*st  fall  I  had  in  life.  When 
I  booked  my  place  at  the  coach-office,  I  had  had  "  Box  Seat"  written 
against  the  entry,  and  had  given  the  book-keeper  half-a-crown.  I 
w^as  got  up  in  a  special  great  coat  and  shawl,  expressly  to  do  honour 
to  that  distinguished  eminence ;  had  glorified  myself  upon  it  a  good 
deal ;  and  had  felt  that  I  was  a  credit  to  the  coach.  And  here,  in 
the  very  first  stage,  I  was  supplanted  by  a  shabby  man  with  a  squint, 
who  had  no  other  merit  than  smelling  like  a  livery-stables,  and  being 
able  to  walk  across  me,  more  like  a  tiy  than  a  human  being,  while 
the  horses  were  at  a  canter  ! 

A  distrust  of  myself,  which  has  often  beset  me  in  life  on  small 
occasions,  when  it  would  have  been  better  away,  was  assuredly  not 
stopped  in  its  growth  by  this  little  incident  outside  the  Canterbury 
coach.  It  was  in  vain  to  take  refuge  in  gruflfness  of  speech.  I  spoke 
from  the  pit  of  my  stomach  for  the  rest  of  the  journey,  but  I  felt 
completely  extinguished,  and  dreadfully  young. 

It  was  curious  and  interesting,  nevertheless,  to  be  sitting  up  there, 
behind  four  horses  :  well  educated,  well  dressed,  and  with  })lenty  of 
money  in  my  pocket :  and  to  look  out  for  the  places  where  I  had 
slept  on  my  weary  journey.  I  had  abundant  occu])ation  for  my 
thoughts,  in  every  conspicuous  landmark  on  the  road.  When  I 
looked  down  at  the  trampers  whom  we  passed,  and  saw  that  well' 
remembered  style  of  face  turned  up,  I  felt  as  if  the  tinker's  blackened 
hand  were  in  the  bosom  of  my  shirt  again.  When  we  clattered 
tlirough  the  narrow  street  of  Chatham,  and  I  caught  a  glimpse,  in 
passing,  of  the  lane  where  the  old  monster  lived  who  had  bought 
m}  jacket,  I  stretched  my  neck  eagerly  to  look  for  the  place  where 
I  had  sat,  in  the  sun  and  in  the  shade,  waiting  for  my  money. 
When  we  came,  at  laat,  within  a  stage  of  London,  and  passed  th« 


830  DAVID    COrPEPtFTELD. 

veritable  Salem  House  where  Mr.  Creakle  had  laid  about  him  with 
a  heavy  hand,  I  would  have  given  all  I  had,  for  lawful  permission  to 
get  down  and  thrash  him,  and  let  all  the  boys  out  like  so  many 
caged  sparrows. 

We  went  to  the  Golden  Cross  at  Charing  Cross,  then  a  mouldy 
sort  of  estabhshment  in  a  close  neighbourhood.  A  waiter  showed 
me  into  the  coffee-room  ;  and  a  chambermaid  introduced  me  to  my 
small  bedchamber,  which  smelt  like  a  hackney-coach,  and  was  shut 
up  like  a  family  vault.  I  was  still  painfully  conscious  of  my  youth, 
for  nobody  stood  in  any  awe  of  me  at  all :  the  chambermaid  being 
utterly  indifferent  to  my  opinions  on  any  subject,  and  the  waiter 
being  familiar  with  me,  and  offering  ad\ice  to  my  inexperience. 
.  "  Well  now,"  said  the  waiter,  in  a  tone  of  confidence,  "  what 
would  you  like  for  dinner?  Young  gentlemen  hkes  poultry  in 
general,  have  a  fow^l !" 

I  told  him,  as  majestically  as  I  could,  that  I  wasn't  in  the  humour 
for  a  fowl. 

''  Ain't  you  !"  said  the  waiter.  "  Young  gentlemen  is  generally 
tired  of  beef  and  mutton,  have  a  weal  cutlet !" 

I  assented  to  this  proposal,  in  default  of  being  able  to  suggest 
anything  else. 

"  Do  you  care  for  taters  ?"  said  the  waiter,  with  an  insinuating 
smile,  and  his  head  on  one  side.  "  Young  gentlemen  generally  has 
been  over-dosed  with  taters." 

I  commanded  him  in  my  deepest  voice,  to  order  a  veal  cutlet  and 
potatoes,  and  all  things  fitting ;  and  to  inquire  at  the  bar  if  there 
were  any  letters  for  Trotwood  Copperfield,  Esquire — which  I  knew 
there  were  not,  and  couldn't  be,  but  thought  it  manly  to  appear  to 
expect. 

He  soon  came  back  to  say  that  there  were  none  (at  which  I  was 
much  surprised),  and  began  to  lay  the  cloth  for  my  dinner  in  a  box 
by  the  fire.  While  he  was  so  engaged  he  asked  me  what  I  w^ould 
take  with  it ;  and  on  my  replying  "  Half  a  pint  of  sherry,"  thought 
it  a  favourable  opportunity,  I  am  afraid,  to  extract  that  measure  of 
wine  from  the  stale  leavings  at  the  bottoms  of  several  small  decan- 
ters. I  am  of  this  opinion,  because,  while  I  was  reading  the  news- 
paper, I  observed  him  behind  a  low  wooden  partition,  which  was  his 


My  first  Fall  in  Life. 


\. 


.^>0^\^' 


vc« 


DAVID    COrrERFIELD.  331 

private  apartment,  very  busy  pouring  out  of  a  number  of  those 
vessels  into  one,  like  a  chemist  and  druggist  making  up  a  prescription. 
When  the  wine  came,  too,  I  thought  it  flat ;  and  it  certainly  had 
more  English  crumbs  in  it,  than  were  to  be  expected  in  a  foreign 
wine  in  anything  like  a  pure  state ;  but  I  was  bashful  enough  to 
drink  it,  and  say  nothing. 

Being,  then,  in  a  pleasant  frame  of  mind  (from  which  I  infer  that 
poisoning  is  not  always  disagreeable  in  some  stages  of  the  process), 
I  resolved  to  go  to  the  play.  It  was  Covent  Garden  Theatre  that  I 
chose  ;  and  there,  from  the  back  of  a  centre  box,  I  saw  Juhus  Caesar 
and  the  new  Pantomime.  To  ha\'e  all  those  noble  Romans  alive 
before  me,  and  walking  in  and  out  for  my  entertainment,  instead  of 
being  the  stern  taskmasters  they  had  been  at  school,  was  a  most 
novel  and  dehghtful  effect.  But  the  mingled  reality  and  mystery 
of  the  whole  show,  the  influence  upon  me  of  the  poetry,  the  lights, 
the  music,  the  company,  the  smooth  stupendous  changes  of  ghttering 
and  brilliant  scenery,  were  so  dazzhng,  and  opened  up  such  illimita- 
ble regions  of  delight,  that  when  I  came  out  into  the  rainy  street,  at 
twelve  o'clock  at  night,  I  felt  as  if  I  had  come  from  the  clouds,  where 
I  had  been  leading  a  romantic  life  for  ages,  to  a  bawhng,  splashing, 
link-lighted,  umbrella-struggling,  hackney-coach-jostling,  patten- 
clinking,  muddy,  miserable  world. 

I  had  emerged  by  another  door,  and  stood  in  the  street  for  a  little 
while,  as  if  I  really  were  a  stranger  upon  earth :  but  the  unceremo- 
nious pushing  and  hustling  that  I  received,  soovi  recalled  me  to 
myself,  and  put  me  in  the  road  back  to  the  hotel ;  whither  I  went, 
revolving  the  glorious  vision  all  the  way  ;  and  where,  after  some 
porter  -and  oysters,  I  sat  revolving  it  still,  at  past  one  o'clock,  with 
iny  eyes  on  the  coffee-room  fire. 

I  was  so  filled  with  the  ilay,  and  with  the  past — for  it  was,  in  a 
manner,  like  a  shining  transjjarency,  through  which  I  saw  my  earlier 
hfe  moving  along — that  I  don't  know  when  the  figure  of  a  handsome 
well-formed  young  man,  dressed  with  a  tasteful  easy  neghgence 
which  I  have  reason  to  remember  very  well,  became  a  real  presence 
to  me.  But  I  recollect  being  conscious  of  his  company  without 
having  noticed  his  coming  in — and  my  still  sitting,  musing,  over  the 
coffee-room  fire. 


332  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

At  last  I  rose  to  go  to  bed,  much  to  the  rehef  of  the  sle(;py 
waiter,  who  had  got  the  fidgets  in  his  legs,  and  was  twisting  them, 
and  hitting  them,  and  putting  them  through  all  kinds  of  contortions 
in  his  small  pantry.  In  going  towards  the  door,  I  passed  the  per- 
son who  had  come  in,  and  saw  him  plainly.  I  turned  directly, 
came  back,  and  looked  again.  He  did  not  know  me,  but  I  knew 
him  in  a  moment. 

At  another  time  I  mia;ht  have  wanted  the  confidence  or  the  deci- 
sion  to  speak  to  him,  and  might  have  put  it  off  until  next  day,  and 
might  have  lost  him.  But,  in  the  then  condition  of  my  mind, 
where  the  play  was  still  running  high,  his  former  protection  of  me 
appeared  so  deserxing  of  my  gratitude,  and  my  old  love  for  him 
overflowed  my  breast  so  freshly  and  spontaneously,  that  I  went  up 
to  him  at  once,  with  a  fast-beating  heart,  and  said  : 

"  Steerforth  !  won't  you  speak  to  me  ?  " 

He  looked  at  me — just  as  he  used  to  look,  sometimes — but  I  saw 
DO  recognition  in  his  face. 

"  You  don't  remember  me,  I  am  afraid,"  said  I. 

"  My  God  !"  he  suddenly  exclaimed.     "  It's  little  Copperfield  !" 

I  grasped  him  by  both  hands,  and  could  not  let  them  go.  But 
for  very  shame,  and  the  fear  that  it  might  displease  him,  I  could 
have  held  him  round  the  neck  and  cried. 

"  I  never,  never,  never  was  so  glad  !  My  dear  Steerforth,  I  am  so 
oveijoyed  to  see  you !" 

"  And  I  am  rejoiced  to  see  you,  too !"  he  said,  shaking  my  hands 
heartily.  "Why,  Copperfield,  old  boy,  don't  be  overpowered!" 
And  yet  he  was  glad,  too,  I  thought,  to  see  how  the  delight  I  had 
in  meeting  him  aSected  me. 

I  brushed  away  the  tears  that  my  utmost  Tesolution  had  not  been 
able  to  keep  back,  and  I  made  a  clumsy  laugh  of  it,  and  we  sat 
down  together,  side  by  side. 

"  Why,  how  do  you  come  to  be  here  ?  "  said  Sleerforth,  clapping 
me  on  the  shoulder. 

"I  came  here  by  the  Canterbury  coach,  to-day.  I  have  been 
adopted  by  an  aunt  down  in  that  part  of  the  country,  and  ha^e  just 
finished  my  education  there.  How  do  you  come  to  be  here, 
Steerforth?" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  333 

**  Well,  I  am  what  tbey  call  an  Oxford  man,"  he  returned ;  "  that 
is  to  say,  I  get  bored  to  death  down  there,  periodically — and  I  am 
on  my  way  now  to  my  mother's.  You  're  a  devilish  amiable-look- 
ing fellow,  Copperfield.  Just  what  you  used  to  be,  now  I  look  at 
you  !     Not  altered  in  the  least !" 

"  I  knew  you  immediately,"  I  said ;  "  but  you  are  more  easily 
remembered." 

He  laughed  as  he  ran  his  hand  through  the  clustering  curls  of 
his  hair,  and  said  gaily  : 

"  Yes,  I  am  on  an  expedition  of  duty.  My  mother  lives  a  httle 
way  out  of  town ;  and  the  roads  being  in  a  beastly  condition,  and 
our  house  tedious  enough,  I  remained  here  to-night  instead  of  going 
on.  I  have  not  been  in  town  half-a-dozen  hours,  and  those  I  have 
been  dozing  and  grumbling  away  at  the  play." 

"  I  have  been  at  the  play,  too,"  said  I.  "  At  Covent  Garden. 
What  a  delightful  and  magnificent  entertainment,  Steerforth." 

Steerforth  laughed  heartily. 

— "  My  dear  young  Davy,"  he  said,  clapping  me  on  the  shoulder 
again,  "  you  are  a  very  Daisy.  The  daisy  of  the  field,  at  sunrise,  is 
not  fresher  than  you  are  !  I  have  been  at  Covent  Garden,  too,  and 
there  never  was  a  more  miserable  business ! — Holloa,  you,  sir  ! " 

This  was  addressed  to  the  waiter,  who  had  been  very  attentive  to 
our  recognition,  at  a  distance,  and  now  came  forward  deferentially. 

"  Where  have  you  put  my  friend,  Mr.  Gopperfield  ?"  said 
Steerforth. 

"  Beg  your  pardon,  sir  ?" 

"  Where  does  he  sleep  ?  What's  his  number  ?  You  know  what 
I  mean,"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Well,  sir,"  said  the  waiter,  with  an  apologetic  air.  "  Mr.  Cop- 
perfield is  at  present  in  forty-four,  sir." 

"  And  what  the  devil  do  you  mean,"  retorted  Steerforth,  "  by  put- 
ting Mr.  Coppei*field  into  a  little  loft  over  the  stable  ?" 

"  Why,  you  see  we  wasn't  aware,  sir,"  returned  the  waiter,  still 
apologetically,  "as  Mr.  Copperfield  was  anyways  particular.  We 
can  give  Mr.  Gopperfield  seventy-two,  sir,  if  it  would  be  preferred 
Next  you,  sir." 


334  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Of  course  it  would  be  preferred,"  said  Sleerforth.  "  And  do  it 
at  cmce." 

The  waiter  immediately  withdrew  to  make  the  exchange.  Steer- 
forth,  very  much  amused  at  my  having  been  put  into  forty-four, 
laughed  again,  and  clapped  me  on  the  shoulder  again,  and  invited 
me  to  breakfast  with  him  next  morning  at  ten  o'clock — an  invita- 
tion I  was  only  too  proud  and  happy  to  accept.  It  being  now  pretty 
late,  we  took  our  candles  and  went  up-stairs,  where  we  parted  with 
friendly  heartiness  at  his  door,  and  where  I  found  my  new  room  a 
great  improvement  on  my  old  one,  it  not  being  at  all  musty,  and 
ha\dng  an  immense  four-post  bedstead  in  it,  which  was  quite  a  little 
lauded  estate.  Here,  among  pillows  enough  for  six,  I  soon  fell 
asleep  in  a  blissful  condition,  and  dreamed  of  ancient  Rome,  Steer- 
forth,  and  friendship,  until  the  early  moming  coaches,  rumbling  out 
of  the  archway  underneath,  made  me  dream  of  thunder  and  the 
gods. 


CHAPTER  XX. 


BTEERFORTH  S    HOME. 


When  the  chambermaid  tapped  at  my  door  at  eight  o'clock,  and 
informed  me  that  my  shaving-water  was  outside,  I  felt  severely  the 
having  no  occasion  for  it,  and  blushed  in  my  bed.  The  suspicion 
that  she  laughed  too,  when  she  said  it,  preyed  upon  my  mind  all 
the  time  1  was  dressing  ;  and  gave  me,  I  was  conscious,  a  sneaking 
and  guilty  air  when  I  passed  her  on  the  staircase,  as  I  was  going 
down  to  breakfast.  I  was  so  sensitively  aware,  indeed,  of  being 
younger  than  I  could  have  wished,  that  for  some  time  I  could  not 
make  up  my  mind  to  pass  her  at  all,  under  the  ignoble  circum- 
stances of  the  case  ;  but,  hearing  her  there  with  a  broom,  stood- 
peeping  out  of  window  at  King  Charles  on  horseback,  surrounded 
by  a  maze  of  hackney-coaches,  and  looking  anything  but  regal  in  a 
drizzling  rain  and  a  dark-brown  fog,  until  I  was  admonished  by  the 
waiter  that  the  gentleman  was  waiting  for  me. 

It  was  not  in  the  coffee-room  that  I  found  Steerforth  expecting 
me,  but  in  a  snug  private  apartment,  red-curtained  and  Turkey- 
carpeted,  where  the  fire  burnt  bright,  and  a  fine  hot  breakfast  was 
set  forth  on  a  table  covered  with  a  clean  cloth ;  and  a  cheerful  minia- 
ture of  the  room,  the  fire,  the  breakfast,  Steerforth,  and  all,  was 
shining  in  the  little  round  mirror  over  the  sideboard.  I  was  rather 
bashful  at  first,  Steerforth  being  so  self-possessed,  and  elegant,  and 
superior  to  me  in  all  respects  (age  included)  ;  but  his  easy  patronage 
soon  put  that  to  rights,  and  made  me  quite  at  home.  I  could  not 
enough  admire  the  change  he  had  wrought  in  the  Golden  Cross ; 
or  compare  the  dull  forlorn  state  I  had  held  yesterday,  with  tliis 
morning's  comfort  and  this  morning's  entertainment.  As  to  the 
waiter's  familiarity,  it  was  quenched  as  if  it  had  never  been.  He 
attended  on  us,  as  I  may  say,  in  sackcloth  and  ashes. 

885 


836  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"Now,  Coppei-field,"  said  Steerforth,  when  we  were  alone,  "I 
ehoiild  like  to  hear  what  you  are  doina;,  and  where  you  are  going, 
and  all  about  you.     I  feel  as  if  you  were  my  property." 

Glowing  with  pleasure  to  find  that  he  had  still  this  interest  in  me, 
I  told  him  how  my  aunt  had  proposed  the  little  expedition  that  1 
had  before  me,  and  whither  it  tended. 

"  As  you  are  in  no  hurry,  then,"  said  Steerforth,  "  come  home 
mth.  me  to  Highgate,  and  stay  a  day  or  two.  You  will  be  pleased 
with  my  mother — she  is  a  little  vain  and  prosy  about  me,  but  that 
you  can  forgive  her — and  she  will  be  pleased  with  you." 

"  I  should  hke  to  be  as  sure  of  that,  as  you  are  kind  enough  ta 
say  you  are,"  I  answered,  smihng. 

"  Oh  !"  said  Steerforth,  "  every  one  who  likes  me,  has  a  claim  on 
her  that  is  sure  to  be  acknowledged." 

"  Then  I  think  I  shall  be  a  favourite,"  said  I. 

"  Good !"  said  Steerforth.  "  Come  and  prove  it.  We  will  gc 
and  see  the  lions  for  an  hour  or  two — it 's  something  to  have  a  fresli 
fellow  like  you  to  show  them  to,  Copperfield — and  then  we'll  journej 
out  to  Highgate  by  the  coach." 

I  could  hardly  believe  but  that  I  was  in  a  dream,  and  that  1 
should  wake  presently  in  number  forty-four,  to  the  solitaiy  box  in 
the  coffee-room  and  the  familiar  waiter  again.  After  I  had  written 
to  my  aunt  and  told  her  of  my  fortunate  meeting  with  my  admired 
old  school-fellow,  and  my  acceptance  of  his  invitation,  we  went  out 
in  a  hackney-chariot,  and  saw  a  Panorama  and  some  other  sights, 
and  took  a  walk  through  the  Museum,  where  I  could  not  help  ob- 
serving how  much  Steerforth  knew,  on  an  infinite  variety  of  subjects, 
and  of  how  little  account  he  seemed  to  make  his  knowledcj;©. 

"  You  '11  take  a  high  degree  at  college,  Steerforth,"  said  I,  "  if  you 
liave  not  done  so  already ;  and  they  will  have  good  reason  to  be 
proud  of  you." 

"  /  take  a  degree  !"  cried  Steerforth.  "  Not  I !  my  dear  Daisy- 
will  you  mind  my  calling  you  Daisy  ?" 

"Not  at  all!"  said  I. 

"  That 's  a  good  fellow !  My  dear  Daisy,"  said  Steerforth,  laugh- 
ing, "  I  have  not  the  least  desire  or  intention  to  distinguish  myself 
in  that  way.  I  have  done  quite  sufficient  for  my  purpose.  I  find 
that  I  am  heavy  company  enough  for  myself,  as  I  am." 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  337 

"  But  the  fame "  1  was  beginning. 

"  You  romantic  Daisy !"  said  Steerforth,  laughing  still  more 
heartily ;  "  why  should  I  trouble  myself,  that  a  parcel  of  heavy- 
headed  fellows  may  gape  and  hold  up  their  hands  ?  Let  them  do  it 
at  some  other  man.  There 's  fame  for  him,  and  he 's  welcome 
to  it." 

I  was  abashed  at  having  made  so  great  a  mistake,  and  was  glad 
to  change  the  subject.  Fortunately  it  was  not  difficult  to  do,  for 
Steerforth  could  always  pass  from  one  subject  to  another  with  a 
carelessness  and  lightness  that  were  his  own. 

Lunch  succeeded  to  our  sight-seeing,  and  the  short  winter  day 
wore  away  so  fast,  that  it  was  dusk  when  the  stage-coach  stopped 
with  us  at  an  old  brick  house  at  Hio;ho;ate  on  the  summit  of  the  hill. 
An  elderly  lady,  though  not  very  far  advanced  in  years,  with  a  proud 
carriage  and  a  handsome  face,  wtxs  in  the  doorway  as  we  alighted ; 
and  greeting  Steerforth  as  "  My  dearest  James,"  folded  liim  in  her 
arms.  To  this  lady  he  presented  me  as  his  mother,  and  she  gave 
me  a  stately  welcome. 

It  was  a  genteel  old-fashioned  house,  very  quiet  and  orderly. 
From  the  windows  of  my  room  I  saw  all  London  lying  in  the  dis- 
tance like  a  great  vapor,  with  here  and  there  some  hghts  twinkling 
through  it.  I  had  only  time,  in  dressing,  to  glance  at  the  solid 
furniture,  the  framed  pieces  of  work  (done,  I  supposed,  by  Steerforth's 
mother  when  she  was  a  girl),  and  some  pictures  in  crayons  of  ladies 
with  powdered  hair  and  boddices,  coming  and  going  on  the  walls,  as 
the  newly-kindled  fire  crackled  and  sputtered,  when  I  was  called  to 
dinner. 

There  was  a  second  lady  in  the  dining-room,  of  a  slight  short 
figure,  dark,  and  not  agreeable  to  look  at,  but  with  some  api>earance 
of  good  looks  too,  who  attracted  my  attention :  perhaps  because  I 
had  not  expected  to  see  her ;  perhaps  because  I  found  myself  sitting 
opposite  to  her ;  perhaps  because  of  something  really  remarkable  in 
lier.  She  had  black  hair  and  eager  black  eyes,  and  was  thin,  and 
had  a  scar  upon  her  lip.  It  was  an  old  scar — I  should  rather  call  it 
Beam,  for  it  was  not  discolored,  and  had  healed  years  ago — which 
had  once  cut  through  her  mouth,  downward  towards  the  chin,  but 
was  now  barely  visible  across  the  table,  except  above  and  on  hei 

21 


338  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

upper  lip,  the  shape  of  which  it  had  altered.  I  concluded  in  my 
own  mind  that  she  was  about  thirty  years  of  age,  and  that  she 
wished  to  be  married.  She  was  a  little  dilapidated — like  a  house — 
with  having  been  so  long  to  let ;  yet  had,  as  I  have  said,  an  appear- 
ance of  good  looks.  Her  thinness  seemed  to  be  the  eflfect  of  some 
wasting  fire  within  her,  which  found  a  vent  in  her  gaunt  eyes. 

She  was  introduced  as  Miss  Dartle,  and  both  Steerforth  and  his 
mother  called  her  Rosa.  I  found  that  she  lived  there,  and  had 
been  for  a  long  time  Mrs.  Steerforth's  companion.  It  ajjpeared  to 
me  that  she  never  said  anything  she  wanted  to  say,  outright ;  but 
hinted  it,  and  made  a  great  deal  more  of  it  by  this  practice.  Foi 
example,  when  jVIrs.  Steerforth  observed,  more  in  jest  than  earnest, 
that  she  feared  her  son  led  but  a  wild  life  at  college,  Miss  Dartle 
put  in  thus : 

"  Oh,  really  ?  You  know  how  ignorant  I  am,  and  that  I  only 
asked  for  information,  but  isn't  it  always  so  ?  I  thought  that  kind 
of  life  was  on  ail  hands  undei"stood  to  be — eh  ?" 

"  It  is  education  for  a  very  grave  profession,  if  you  mean  that, 
Rosa,"  Mrs.  Steerforth  answered  with  some  coldness. 

"Oh!  Yes!  That's  very  true,"  returned  Miss  Dartle.  "But 
isn't  it,  though  ? — I  want  to  be  put  right  if  I  am  wrong — ^isn't  it 
really?" 

"  Really  what  ?"  said  Mrs.  Steerforth. 

"  Oh  !  You  mean  it's  not  P^  returned  Miss  Dartle.  "  Well,  I'm 
very  glad  to  hear  it !  Xow,  I  know  what  to  do.  That's  the  ad- 
vantage of  asking.  I  shall  never  allow  2)eople  to  talk  before  me 
about  wastefulness  and  profligacy,  and  so  forth,  in  connection  with 
that  life,  any  more." 

"  And  you  will  be  right,"  said  Mrs.  Steerforth.  "  My  son's  tutor 
is  a  conscientious  gentleman  ;  and  if  I  had  not  implicit  rehance  on 
my  son,  I  should  have  rel  ince  on  him." 

"  Should  you  ?"  said  Miss  Dartle.  "  Dear  me  !  Conscientious 
is  he  ?     Really  conscientious,  now  ?" 

"  Yes,  I  am  convinced  of  it,"  said  Mrs.  Steerforth. 

"  How  very  nice !  exclaimed  Miss  Dartle.  "  What  a  comfort  I 
Really  conscientious  ?  Then  he's  not — but  of  course  he  can't  be,  if 
he's  really  conscientious.     Well,  I  shall  be  quite  happy  in  my  opi- 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  339 

nion  of  him,  from  this  time.  You  can't  think  how  it  elevates  him  in 
my  opinion,  to  know  for  certain  that  he's  really  conscientious  !" 

Her  own  views  of  every  question,  and  her  correction  of  every- 
thing that  was  said  to  which  she  was  opposed.  Miss  Dartle  insinu- 
ated in  the  same  way :  sometimes,  I  could  not  conceal  fi'om  myself, 
with  great  power,  though  in  contradiction  even  of  Steeiforth.  An 
instance  happened  before  dinner  was  done.  Mi-s.  Steerforth  speak- 
ing to  me  about  my  intention  of  going  down  into  Suft'olk,  I  said  at 
hazard  how  glad  I  should  be,  if  Steerforth  would  only  go  there  with 
me  ;  and  explaining  to  him  that  I  was  going  to  see  my  old  nurse, 
and  Mr.  Peggotty's  family,  I  reminded  him  of  the  boatman  whom 
he  had  seen  at  school. 

"  Oh !  That  blutf  fellow  1"  said  Steerforth.  "  He  had  a  sou  with 
him,  hadn't  he  ?" 

"  No.  That  was  his  nephew,"  I  replied ;  "  whom  he  adopted, 
though,  as  a  son.  He  has  a  very  pretty  little  niece  too,  whom  he 
adopted  as  a  daughter.  In  short,  his  house  (or  rather  his  boat,  for 
he  lives  in  one,  on  dry  land)  is  full  of  people  who  are  objects  of  his 
generosity  and  kindness.  You  would  be  delighted  to  see  that 
household." 

"  Should  I  ?"  said  Steerforth.  "  Well,  I  think  I  should.  I  must 
see  what  can  be  done.  It  would  be  worth  a  journey — not  to  men- 
tion the  pleasure  of  a  journey  with  you,  Daisy, — to  see  that  sort  of 
people  together,  and  to  make  one  of  'em." 

My  heart  leaped  with  a  new  hope  of  pleasure.  But  it  was  in 
reference  to  the  tone  in  which  he  had  spoken  of  "  that  sort  of  peo- 
ple," that  Miss  Dartle,  whose  sparkling  eyes  had  been  watchful  of 
us,  now  broke  in  again. 

"  Oh,  but,  really  ?  Do  tell  me.     Are  they,  though  ?"  she  said. 

"  Are  they  what  ?  And  are  who  what  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  That  sort  of  people. — Are  they  really  animals  and  clods,  and 
beings  of  another  order  ?     I  want  to  know  so  nmch." 

"  Why,  there's  a  pretty  wide  separation  between  them  and  us," 
said  Steerforth,  with  inditference.  "  They  are  not  to  be  expected  to 
be  as  sensitive  as  we  are.  Their  delicacy  is  not  to  1x5  shocked,  or 
hurt  very  easily.  They  are  wonderfully  Nnrtuous,  I  dare  say — some 
people  contend  for  that,  at  least ;  and  I  am  sure  I  don't  want  tc 


840  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

contradict  tliem — but  they  have  not  very  fine  natures,  and  they 
may  be  thankful  that,  hke  their  coarse  rough  skins,  they  are  not 
easily  wounded." 

"  Really !"  said  Miss  Dartle.  "  Well,  I  don't  know,  now,  when  I 
have  been  better  pleased  than  to  hear  that.  It's  so  consoling !  It's 
such  a  delight  to  know  that,  when  they  suffer,  they  don't  feel ! 
Sometimes  I  have  been  quite  uneasy  for  that  sort  of  people  ;  but 
now  I  shall  just  dismiss  the  idea  of  them,  altogether.  Live  and 
learn.  I  had  my  doubts,  I  confess,  but  now  they're  cleared  up.  I 
didn't  know,  and  now  I  do  know ;  and  that  shows  the  advantage 
of  asking — don't  it  ?" 

I  beheved  that  Steerforth  had  said  what  he  had,  in  jest,  or  to 
draw  Miss  Dartle  out ;  and  I  expected  him  to  say  as  much  when 
she  was  gone,  and  we  two  were  sitting  before  the  fire.  But  he 
merely  asked  me  what  I  thought  of  her. 

"  She  is  very  clever,  is  she  not  ?"  I  asked. 

"  Clever !  She  brino-s  evervthinjr  to  a  arrindstone,"  said  Steer- 
forth,  "  and  sharpens  it,  as  she  has  sharpened  her  own  face  and 
figure  these  years  past.  She  has  worn  herself  away  by  constant 
sharpening.     She  is  all  edge." 

"  What  a  remarkable  scar  that  is  upon  her  lip  !"  I  said. 

Steerforth's  face  fell,  and  he  paused  a  moment. 

"  Why,  the  fiict  is,"  he  returned,  "  — /  did  that." 

"  By  an  unfortunate  accident !" 

"  No.  I  was  a  young  boy,  and  she  exasperated  me,  and  I 
threw  a  hammer  at  her.  A  promising  young  angel  I  must  have 
been !" 

I  was  deeply  sorry  to  have  touched  on  such  a  painful  theme,  but 
that  was  useless  now. 

"  She  has  borne  the  mark  ever  since,  as  you  see,"  said  Steerforth ; 
"  and  she  '11  bear  it  to  her  grave,  if  she  ever  rests  in  one — though 
I  can  hardly  believe  she  will  ever  rest  anywhere.  She  was  the  ijio- 
therless  child  of  a  sort  of  cousin  of  my  father's.  He  died  one  day. 
My  mother,  who  was  then  a  widow,  brought  her  here  to  be  company 
tf3  her.  She  has  a  couple  of  thousand  pounds  of  her  own,  and  saves 
the  interest  of  it  eveiy  year,  to  add  to  the  principal.  There's  the 
history  of  Miss  Rosa  Dartle  for  you." 


D  A  V  [  D  -  C  0  P  P  E  R  F  1  E  L  D .  341 

"  And  I  have  ik>  doubt  she  loves  you  hke  a  brother,"  said  I. 

"  Humpli  I"  retorted  Steerforth,  looking  at  the  fire.  "  Some 
brothers  are  not  loved  overmuch ;  and  some  love — but  help  your- 
self, Copperfield  !  We  '11  drink  the  daisies  of  the  field,  in  compli- 
ment to  you  ;  and  the  hlies  of  the  valley  that  toil  not,  neither  do 
they  spin,  in  compliment  to  me — the  more  shame  for  me !"  A 
moody  smile  that  had  overspread  his  features  cleared  off  as  he  said 
this  merrily,  and  he  was  his  own  fi-ank  winning  self  again. 

I  could  not  help  glancing  at  the  scar  with  a  painful  interest  when 
we  went  in  to  tea.  It  was  not  long  before  I  observed  that  it  was  the 
most  susceptible  part  of  her  face,  and  that,  when  she  turned  pale, 
that  mark  altered  first,  and  became  a  dull,  lead-coloured  streak, 
lenorthenino;  out  to  its  full  extent,  like  a  mark  in  invisible  ink  brouo-ht 
to  the  fire.  There  was  a  httle  altercation  between  her  and  Steerforth 
about  a  cast  of  the  dice  at  backgammon — when  I  thought  her,  for 
one  moment,  in  a  storm  of  rage  ;  and  then  I  saw  it  start  forth  hke 
the  old  writing  on  the  wall. 

'  It  was  no  matter  of  wonder  to  me  to  find  Mrs.  Steerforth  de- 
voted to  her  son.  She  seemed  to  be  able  to  speak  or  think  about 
nothing  else.  She  showed  me  his  picture  as  an  infant,  in  a  locket, 
with  some  of  his  baby-hair  in  it ;  she  showed  me  his  picture  as  he 
had  been  when  I  first  knew  him ;  and  she  wore  at  her  breast  his 
picture  as  he  was  now.  All  the  letters  he  had  ever  written  to  her, 
she  kept  in  a  cabinet  near  her  own  chair  by  the  fire ;  and  she  would 
have  read  me  some  of  them,  and  I  should  have  been  very  glad  to 
hear  them  too,  if  he  had  not  interposed,  and  coaxed  her  out  of  the 
design. 

"  It  was  at  Mr.  Creakle's,  my  son  tells  me,  that  you  first  became 
acquainted,"  said  Mrs.  Steerforth,  as  she  and  I  were  talking  at  one 
table,  while  they  i>layed  backgammon  at  another.  "  Indeed,  I  recol- 
lect his  speaking,  at  that  time,  of  a  pupil  younger  than  himself  who 
had  taken  his  fancy  there ;  but  y4'ur  name,  £is  you  may  suppose,  has 
not  lived  in  my  memory." 

"  He  was  very  generous  and  noble  to  me  in  those  days,  I  assure 
you,  ma'am,"  said  I,  "  and  I  stood  in  need  of  such  a  friend.  I  should 
have  been  quite  crushed  without  him. 

"  He  is  always  generous  and  noble."  •^aid  Mrs.  Steerforth,  proudly. 


842  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

1  subscribed  to  this  ^vith  all  my  lieart,  God  knows.  She  knew  I 
did ;  for  the  stateliness  of  her  manner  already  abated  towards  me, 
except  when  she  spoke  in  praise  of  him,  and  then  her  air  was  always 
lofty. 

"  It  was  not  a  fit  school  generally  for  my  son,"  said  she  ;,  "  far 
from  it ;  but  there  were  particular  circumstances  to  be  considered  at 
the  time,  of  more  importance  even  than  that  selection.  My  son's 
high  spirit  made  it  desirable  that  he  should  be  placed  with  some 
man  who  felt  its  superiority,  and  would  be  content  to  bow  hmiseJ 
before  it ;  and  we  found  such  a  man  there." 

I  knew  that,  knowing  the  fellow.  And  yet  I  did  not  despise  him 
the  more  for  it,  but  thought  it  a  redeeming  quality  in  him — if  he 
could  be  allowed  any  grace  for  not  resisting  one  so  irresistible  as 
Steerforth. 

"My  son's  great  capacity  was  tempted  on,  there,  by  a  feeling  of 
voluntary  emulation  and  conscious  pride,"  the  fond  lady  went  on  to 
say.  "  He  would  have  risen  against  all  constraint ;  but  he  found 
himself  the  monarch  of  the  place,  and  he  haughtily  determined  to  be 
worthy  of  his  station.     It  was  like  himself." 

I  echoed  with  all  my  heart  and  soul,  that  it  was  like  himself. 

"  So  my  son  took,  of  his  own  will,  and  on  no  compulsion,  to  the 
sourse  in  which  he  can  always,  when  it  is  his  pleasure,  outstrip  every 
competitor,"  she  pursued.  "  My  son  informs  me,  Mr.  Copperfield, 
that  you  were  quite  devoted  to  him,  and  that  when  you  met  yester- 
day you  made  yourself  known  to  him  with  teai*s  of  joy.  I  should  be 
an  affected  woman  if  I  made  any  pretence  of  being  surprised  by  my 
son's  inspiring  such  emotions ;  but  I  cannot  be  indifferent  to  any  one 
who  is  so  sensible  of  his  merit,  and  I  am  very  glad  to  see  you  here, 
and  can  assure  you  that  he  feels  an  unusual  friendship  for  you,  and 
that  you  may  rely  on  his  protection." 

Miss  Dartle  played  backgammon  as  eagerly  as  she  did  everything 
else.  If  I  had  seen  her,  first,  at  the  board,  I  should  have  fancied 
that  her  figure  had  got  thin,  and  her  eyes  had  got  large,  over  that 
pui-suit,  and  no  other  in  the  world.  But  I  am  very  much  mistaken 
if  she  missed  a  word  of  this,  or  lost  a  look  of  mine  as  I  received  it 
with  the  utmost  pleasure,  and,  honoured  by  Mrs.  Steerforth's  ct)nfi- 
deuce,  felt  older  than  I  had  done  since  I  left.  Canterbury. 


DAVID    COPPER  FIELD.  313 

When  tie  evening  was  pretty  far  spent,  and  a  tray  of  glasses  and 
decanters  came  in,  Steerforth  promised,  over  the  fire,  that  he  would 
seriously  think  of  going  down  into  the  country  with  me.  Thero 
was  no  hurry,  he  said  ;  a  week  hence  would  do ;  and  his  mother 
hospitably  said  the  same.  While  we  were  talking,  he  more  than 
once  called  me  Daisy ;  which  brought  Miss  Dartle  out  again. 

"  But  really,  Mr.  Copperfield,"  she  asked,  "  is  it  a  nick-name  ? 
And  why  does  he  give  it  you  ?  Is  it — eh  ? — because  he  thinks  you 
young  and  innocent  ?     I  am  so  stupid  in  these  things." 

I  coloured  in  replying  that  I  believed  it  was. 

"  Oh,"  said  Miss>  Dai-tle.  "  Now  I  am  glad  to  know  that !  I  ask 
for  information,  and  I  am  glad  to  know  it.  He  thinks  you  young 
and  innocent ;  and  so  you  are  his  friend.  Well,  that 's  quite 
dehghtful !" 

She  went  to  bed  soon  after  this,  and  Mrs.  Steerforth  retired  too. 
Steerforth  and  I,  after  lingering  for  half  an  hour  over  the  fire,  talking 
about  Traddles  and  all  the  rest  of  them  at  old  Salem  House,  went 
up-stairs  together.  Steerforth's  room  was  next  to  mine,  and  I  went 
in  to  look  at  it.  It  was  a  picture  of  comfort,  full  of  easy  chairs, 
cushions  and  footstools,  worked  by  his  mother's  hand,  and  with  no 
Bort  of  thing  omitted  that  could  help  to  render  it  complete.  Finally, 
her  handsome  features  looked  down  on  her  darhng  from  a  [)ortrait 
on  the  wall,  as  if  it  were  even  something  to  her  that  her  hkeness 
should  watch  him  while  he  slept. 

I  found  the  fire  burning  clear  enough  in  my  room  by  this  time, 
and  the  curtains  drawn  before  the  windows  and  round  the  bed, 
giving  it  a  very  snug  appearance.  I  sat  down  in  a  great  chair  upon 
the  hearth  to  meditate  on  my  happiness ;  and  had  enjoyed  the 
contemplation  of  it  for  some  time,  when  I  found  a  likeness  of  Miss 
Dartle  looking  eagerly  at  me  from  above  the  chimney-piece. 

It  was  a  startling  likeness,  and  necessarily  had  a  startling  look. 
The  painter  hadn't  made  the  scar,  but  /  made  it ;  and  there  it 
was,  coming  and  going ;  now  confined  to  the  upper  lip  as  I  had 
Been  it  at  dinner,  and  now  showing  the  whole  extent  of  the  wound 
inflicted  by  the  hammer,  as  I  had  seen  it  when  she  was  passionate. 

I  wondered  peevishly  why  they  couldn't  put  her  anywhere  else 
instead  of  quartering  her  on  me.     To  get  rid  of  her,  I  undressed 


844  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

quickl}',  extinguished  my  light,  and  went  to  bed.  But,  as  I  fell 
asleep,  I  could  not  forget  that  she  was  still  there  looking,  "  Is  it 
really,  though  ?  I  want  to  know  ;"  and  when  I  awoke  in  the  night, 
I  found  that  I  was  uneasily  asking  all  sorts  of  people  in  my  dreams 
whether  it  really  was  or  not — without  knowing  what  I  meant. 


CHAPTER  XXI. 


There  was  a  servant  in  that  house,  a  man  who,  I  understood,  was 
usually  with  Steerforth,  and  had  come  into  his  service  at  the  Univer- 
sity, who  was  in  appearance  a  pattern  of  respectability.  I  believe 
there  never  existed  in  his  station  a  more  respectable-looking  man. 
He  was  taciturn,  soft-footed,  very  quiet  in  his  manner,  deferential, 
observant,  always  at  hand  when  wanted,  and  never  near  when  not 
wanted ;  but  his  great  claim  to  consideration  was  his  respectability. 
He  had  not  a  pliant  face,  he  had  rather  a  stiff  neck,  rather  a  tight 
smooth  head  with  short  hair  clinging  to  it  at  the  sides,  a  soft  way  of 
speaking,  with  a  peculiar  habit  of  whispering  the  letter  S  so  dis- 
tinctly, that  he  seemed  to  use  it  oftener  than  any  other  man ;  but 
every  peculiarity  that  he  had  he  made  respectable.  If  his  nose  had 
been  upside-down,  he  would  have  made  that  respectable.  He  sur- 
romided  himself  with  an  atmosphere  of  respectability,  and  walked 
secure  in  it.  It  would  have  been  next  to  impossible  to  suspect  him 
of  anything  wrong,  he  was  so  thoroughly  respectable.  Nobody 
could  have  thought  of  putting  him  in  a  livery,  he  was  so  highly  respec- 
table. To  have  imposed  any  derogatory  work  ujDon  him,  would 
have  been  to  inflict  a  wanton  insult  on  the  feelings  of  a  most  respec- 
table man.  And  of  this,  I  noticed  the  women-servants  in  the  house- 
hold were  so  intuitively  conscious,  that  they  always  did  such  work 
themselves,  and  generally  while  he  read  the  paper  by  the  pantry 
fire. 

Such  a  self-contained  man  1 1  .ever  saw.     But  in  that  quality,  as 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  345 

in  ever}'  other  he  possessed,  he  only  seemed  to  be  the  more  respec- 
table. Even  the  fact  that  no  one  knew  his  Christian  name,  seemed 
to  form  a  part  of  his  resj)ectability.  Nothing  could  be  objected  against 
his  surname  Littimer,  by  which  he  was  known.  Peter  might  have 
been  hanged,  or  Tom  transported ;  but  Littimer  was  perfectly 
respectable. 

It  was  occasioned,  I  suppose,  by  the  reverend  nature  of  respecta- 
bility in  the  abstract,  but  I  felt  particularly  young  in  this  man's 
presence.  How  old  he  was  himself  I  could  not  guess — and  that  again 
went  to  his  credit  on  the  same  score  ;  for  in  the  calmness  of  respec- 
tability he  might  have  numbered  fifty  years  as  well  as  thirty. 

Littimer  was  in  my  room  in  the  morning  before  I  was  up,  to  bring 
me  that  reproachful  shaving-water,  and  to  put  out  my  clothes. 
When  I  undrew  the  curtains  and  looked  o\jt  of  bed,  I  saw  him,  in 
an  equable  temperature  of  respectability,  unaflfected  by  the  east  wind 
of  January,  and  not  even  breathing  frostily,  standing  my  boots  right 
and  left  in  the  first  dancing  position,  and  blowing  specks  of  du^t  utf 
my  coat  as  he  laid  it  down  hke  a  baby. 

I  gave  him  good  morning,  and  asked  him  what  o'clock  it  was.  He 
took  out  of  his  pocket  tlie  most  respectable  hunting-watch  I  ever 
saw,  and  preventing  the  spring  with  his  thumb  from  opening  far, 
looked  in  at  the  face,  as  if  he  were  consulting  an  oracular  oyster 
shut  it  up  again,  and  said,  if  I  pleased,  it  was  half-past  eight. 

"  Mr.  Steerforth  will  be  glad  to  hear  how  you  have  rested,  sir." 

"  Thank  you,"  said  I,  "  very  well  indeed.  Is  Mr.  Steerforth  quite 
well  ?" 

"  Thank  you,  sir,  Mr.  Steerforth  is  tolerably  well."  Another  of 
his  characteristics, — no  use  of  superlatives.  A  cool  calm  medium 
always. 

"  Is  there  anything  more  I  can  have  the  honour  of  doing  for  you, 
sir  ?  The  warning-bell  will  ring  at  nine ;  the  family  take  breakfast 
at  half-past  nine." 

"  Nothing,  I  thank  you." 

"  I  thank  you,  sir,  if  you  please ;"  and  with  that,  and  with  a  little 
.nclination  of  his  head  when  he  passed  the  bedside,  as  an  apology  for 
correcting  me,  he  went  out,  shutting  the  door  as  delicately  as  if  I 
Lad  just  fallen  into  a  sweet  sleep  on  which  my  life  depended. 


846  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

Every  morning  we  had  exactly  this  convei-sation ;  never  any  more, 
and  never  any  less  ;  and  yet,  invariably,  however  far  I  might  have 
been  lifted  out  of  myself  over-night,  and  advanced  towards  maturer 
years,  by  Steerforth's  companionship,  or  Mrs.  Steerforth's  confidence, 
or  Miss  Dartle's  conversation,  in  the  presence  of  this  most  respecta- 
ble man  1  became,  as  our  smaller  poets  sing,  "a  boy  again." 

He  got  horses  for  us  ;  and  Steeiforth,  who  knew  every  thing,  gave 
me  lessons  in  riding.  He  provided  foils  for  us,  and  Steerforth  gave 
me  lessons  in  fencing — gloves,  and  I  began,  of  the  same  master,  to 
improve  in  boxing.  It  gave  me  no  manner  of  concern  that  Steerforth 
should  find  me  a  novice  in  these  sciences,  but  I  never  could  bear  to  show 
my  want  of  skill  before  the  respectable  Littimer.  I  had  no  reason 
to  believe  that  Littimer  understood  such  arts  himself;  he  never  led 
me  to  suppose  anything  of  the  kind,  by  so  much  as  the  vibration  of 
one  of  his  respectable  eyelashes ;  yet  whenever  he  was  by,  while  we 
were  practising,  I  felt  myself  the  greenest  and  most  inexperienced  of 
mortals. 

I  am  particular  about  this  man,  because  he  made  a  particular 
effect  on  me  at  that  time,  and  because  of  what  took  place  thereafter. 

The  week  passed  away  in  a  most  dehghtful  manner.  It  passed 
japidly,  as  may  be  supposed,  to  one  entranced  as  I  was  ;  and  yet  it 
gave  me  so  many  occasions  for  knoT\ing  Steerforth  better,  and 
admiring  him  more  in  a  thousand  respects,  that  at  its  close  I  seemed 
to  have  been  with  him  for  a  much  longer  time.  A  dashing  way 
he  had  of  treating  me  hke  a  play-thing,  was  more  agreeable  to 
me  than  any  behaviour  he  could  have  adopted.  It  reminded 
me  of  our  old  acquaintance  ;  it  seemed  the  natural  sequel  of  it ;  it 
showed  me  that  he  was  unchanged  ;  it  relieved  me  of  any  uneasiness 
I  might  have  felt,  in  comparing  my  merits  with  his,  and  measuring 
my  claims  upon  his  friendship  by  any  equal  standard ;  above  all,  it 
was  a  famihar,  unrestrained,  affectionate  demeanour  that  he  used 
towards  no  one  else.  As  he  had  treated  me  at  school  differently 
from  all  the  rest,  I  joyfully  believed  that  he  treated  me  in  life  unlike 
any  other  friend  he  had.  I  believed  that  I  was  nearer  to  his  heart 
than  any  other  friend,  and  my  own  heart  warmed  with  attachment 
to  him. 

He  made  up  his  mind  to  go  with  me  into  the  country,  and  the 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  847 

day  arrived  for  our  departure.  He  had  leen  doubtful  at  first 
whether  to  take  Littimer  or  not,  but  decided  to  leave  him  at  home. 
The  respectable  creature,  satisfied  with  his  lot  whatever  it  was,  ar- 
ranged our  portmanteaus  on  the  little  carriage  that  was  Xo  take  us 
into  Loncbn,  as  if  they  were  intended  to  defy  the  shocks  of  ages ; 
and  received  my  modestly  proffered  donation  with  perfect  tranquillity. 

We  bade  adieu  to  Mrs.  Steerforth  and  Miss  Dartle,  with  many 
thanks  on  my  part,  and  much  kindness  on  the  devoted  mother's. 
The  last  thing  I  saw  was  Littimer's  unruffled  eye  ;  fraught,  as  I  fan- 
cied, with  the  silent  conviction  that  I  was  very  young  indeed. 

What  I  felt,  in  returning  so  auspiciously  to  the  old  familiar  places, 
I  shall  not  endeavour  to  describe.  We  went  down  by  the  Mail.  I 
was  so  concerned,  I  recollect,  even  for  the  honour  of  Yarmouth,  that 
when  Steerforth  said,  as  we  drove  through  its  dark  streets  to  the  inn, 
that,  as  well  as  he  could  make  out,  it  was  a  good,  queer,  out-of-the- 
way  kind  of  hole,  I  was  highly  pleased.  We  went  to  bed  on  our 
arrival  (I  observed  a  pair  of  dirty  shoes  and  gaiters  in  connexion 
with  my  old  fi-iend  the  Dolphin  as  we  passed  that  door),  and  break- 
fasted late  in  the  morning.  Steerforth,  who  was  in  great  spirits,  had 
been  stroUing  about  the  beach  before  I  was  up,  and  had  made  ac- 
quaintance, he  said,  with  half  the  boatmen  in  the  place.  Moreover 
he  had  seen,  in  the  distance,  what  he  was  sure  must  be  the  identical 
house  of  Mr.  Peggotty,  with  smoke  coming  out  of  the  chimney ;  and 
had  had  a  great  mind,  he  told  me,  to  walk  in  and  swear  he  was  my- 
self grown  out  of  knowledge. 

"  When  do  you  propose  to  introduce  me  there,  Daisy  ?"  he  said, 
**  1  am  at  your  disposal.     Make  your  own  arrangements." 

"  Why,  I  was  thinking  that  this  evening  would  be  a  good  time, 
Steerforth,  when  they  are  all  sitting  round  the  fire.  I  should  hke 
you  to  see  it  when  it's  snug,  it's  such  a  curious  place." 

"  So  be  it !"  returned  Steerforth.     "  This  evening." 

"I  shall  not  give  them  any  notice  that  we  are  here,  you  know,'' 
said  I,  dehghted.     "  We  must  take  them  by  surprise." 

"  Oh,  of  course  !  It's  no  fun,"  said  Steerforth,  "  unless  we  take 
them  by  surprise.  Let  us  see  the  natives  in  their  aboriginal  con- 
dition." 

"  Though  they  are  that  sort  of  people  that  you  mentioned,"  I  re- 
turned. 


a48  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Aha  !  What !  you  recollect  my  skirmishes  with  Rosa,  do  you  ?** 
he  exclaimed  with  a  quick  .look.  "  Confound  the  girl,  I  am  half 
afraid  of  her.  She's  like  a  goblin  to  me.  But  never  mind  her. 
Now  what  are  you  going  to  do  ?  You  are  going  to  see  your  nurse, 
I  suppose  ?" 

"  Why,  yes,"  I  said,  "  I  must  see  Peggotty  first  of  all." 

"  Well,"  replied  Steerforth,  looking  at  his  watch.  "  Suppose  I 
deliver  you  up  to  be  cried  over  for  a  couple  of  hours.  Is  that  long 
enough  ?" 

I  answered,  laughing,  that  I  thought  we  might  get  through  it  iu 
that  time,  but  that  he  must  come  also  ;  for  he  w^ould  find  that  his 
renown  had  preceded  him,  and  that  he  was  almost  as  gTcat  a  per- 
sonage as  I  was. 

"  I'll  come  anywhere  you  like,"  said  Steerforth,  "  or  do  anything 
you  like.  Tell  me  where  to  come  to  ;  and  in  two  hours  I'll  produce 
myself  in  any  state  you  please,  sentimental  or  comical." 

I  gave  him  minute  directions  for  finding  the  residence  of  Mr 
Barkis,  carrier  to  Bluuderstone  and  elsewhere,  and,  on  this  under- 
standing, w^eut  out  alone.  There  was  a  sharp  bracing  air  ;  the 
ground  was  dry ;  the  sea  was  crisp  and  clear  ;  the  sun  was  diffusing 
abundance  of  hght,  if  not  much  warmth  ;  and  everything  was  fresh 
and  lively.  I  was  so  fresh  and  lively  myself,  in  the  pleasure  of  being 
there,  that  I  could  have  stopped  the  people  in  the  streets  and  shaken 
hands  with  them. 

The  streets  looked  small,  of  course.  The  streets  that  we  have  only 
seen  as  children,  always  do,  I  beheve,  when  we  go  back  to  them. 
But  I  had  forgotten  nothing  in  them,  and  found  nothing  changed, 
until  I  came  to  Mr.  Omer's  shop.  Omer  and  Joram  was  now  wTit- 
ten  up,  where  Omer  used  to  be ;  but  the  inscription.  Draper, 
Tailor,  Haberdasher,  Funeral  Furnisher,  &c.,  remained  as  it 
was. 

My  footsteps  seemed  to  tend  so  naturally  to  the  shop-door,  after 
1  had  read  these  words  from  over  the  way,  that  I  went  across  the 
road  and  looked  in.  There  was  a  pretty  woman  at  the  back  of  the 
shop,  dancing  a  little  child  in  her  arms,  while  another  little  fellow 
clung  to  her  api'on.  I  had  no  difficulty  in  recognising  either  Minnie 
or  Minnie's  children.      The  glass-door  of  the  parlor  was  not  open 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  849 

but  in  the  workshop  across  the  yard  I  could  faintly  hear  the  old 
tune  playing,  as  if  it  had  never  left  otf. 

"  Is  Mr.  Omer  at  home  ?"  said  I,  entering.  "  I  should  like  to  see 
him,  for  a  moment,  if  he  is." 

"  Oh  yes,  sir,  he  is  at  home,"  said  Minnie ;  "  this  weather  don't 
suit  his  asthma  out  of  doors.     Joe,  call  your  grandfather !" 

The  little  fellow,  who  was  holding  her  apron,  gave  such  a  lusty 
shout,  that  the  sound  of  it  made  him  bashful,  and  he  buried  his  face 
in  her  skirts,  to  her  great  admiration.  I  heard  a  heavy  puffing  and 
blowing  coming  towards  us,  and  soon  Mr.  Omer,  shorter-winded  than 
of  yore,  but  not  much  older-looking,  stood  before  me. 

"  Servant,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Omer.     "  What  can  I  do  for  you,  sir  ?" 

**  You  can  shake  hands  with  me,  Mr.  Omer,  if  you  please,"  said  I, 
putting  out  my  own.  "  You  were  very  good-natured  to  me  once, 
when  I  am  afraid  I  didn't  show  that  I  thought  so." 

"  Was  I  though?"  returned  the  old  man.  "I'm  glad  to  heai*  it, 
but  I  don't  remember  when.     Are  you  sure  it  was  me  ?" 

"  Quite." 

"  I  think  my  memory  has  got  as  short  as  my  breath,"  said  Mr. 
Omer,  looking  at  me  and  shaking  his  head  ;  "  for  I  don't  remember 
you." 

"  Don't  you  remember  your  coming  to  the  coach  to  meet  me,  and 
my  having  breakfast  here,  and  our  riding  out  to  Blunderstone  toge- 
ther :  you,  and  I,  and  Mi-s.  Joram,  and  Mr.  Joram  too — who  wasn't 
her  husband  then  ?" 

"  Why,  Lord  bless  my  soul !"  exclaimed  Mr.  Omer,  after  being 
thrown  by  his  surprise  into  a  fit  of  coughing,  "  you  don't  say  so ! 
Minnie,  my  dear,  you  recollect?  Dear  me,  yes — the  party  was  a 
lady,  I  think  f 

"  My  mother,"  I  rejoined. 

"  To — be — sure,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  touching  my  waistcoat  with  his 
forefinger,  "  and  there  was  a  little  child  too  !  There  Wc\s  two  parties. 
The  little  party  was  laid  along  with  the  other  party.  Over  at 
Blunderstone  it  was,  of  couree.  Dear  me !  And  how  have  you  been 
smc8?" 

Very  well,  I  thanked  him,  as  I  hoped  he  had  been  too. 

"  Oh  !  nothing  to  grumble  at,  you  know,"  said  Mr.  Omer.     "  I 


850  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

find  my  breath  gets  short,  but  it  seldom  ^ets  longer  as  a  man  gets 
older.  I  take  it  as  it  comes,  and  make  the  most  of  it.  That's 
the  best  way,  ain't  it  ?" 

Mr.  Omer  coughed  again,  in  consequence  of  laughing,  and  was 
assisted  out  of  his  fit  by  his  daughter,  who  now  stood  close  beside  us, 
dancing  her  smallest  child  on  the  counter. 

"  Dear  me  !"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  Yes,  to  be  sure.  Two  parties  ! 
Why,  in  that  very  ride,  if  you  '11  believe  me,  the  day  was  named  for 
my  Minnie  to  marry  Joram.  '  Do  name  it,  sir,'  says  Joram.  '  Yes, 
do,  father,'  said  Minnie.  And  now  he's  come  into  the  business.  And 
look  here  !     The  youngest !" 

Minnie  laughed,  and  stroked  her  banded  hair  upon  her  temples,  as 
her  father  put  one  of  his  fat  fingei-s  into  the  hand  of  the  child  she  was 
dancing  on  the  counter. 

"  Two  parties,  of  course  !"  said  Mr.  Omer,  nodding  his  head  retro- 
spectively. "  Ex-actly  so !  And  Joram's  at  work,  at  this  minute, 
on  a  grey  one  with  silver  nails,  not  this  measurement" — the  mea- 
surement of  the  dancing  child  upon  the  counter — "  by  a  good  two 
inches. — Will  you  take  something  ?" 

I  thanked  him,  but  dechned. 

"  Let  me  see,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  Barkis's  the  carrier's  wife — Peg- 
•  gotty's  the  boatman's  sister — she  had  something  to  do  with  your 
family  ?     She  was  in  service  there,  sure  ?" 

My  answering  in  the  affirmative  gave  him  great  satisfaction. 

"  I  believe  my  breath  will  get  long  next,  my  memory's  getting  so 
much  so,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  Well,  sir,  we've  got  a  young  relation 
of  hers  here  under  articles  to  us,  that  has  as  elegant  a  taste  in  the 
dress-making  business — I  assure  you  I  don't  believe  there's  a 
Duchess  in  England  can  touch  her."  ^ 

"  Not  httle  Em'ly  ?"  said  1,  involuntarily. 

"  Em'ly's  her  name,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  "  and  she's  Httle  too.  But. 
if  you  '11  believe  me,  she  has  such  a  face  of  her  own  that  half  th& 
women  in  this  town  are  mad  against  her." 

"  Nonsense,  father  !"  cried  Minnie. 

"  My  dear,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  "  I  don't  say  it 's  the  case  with  you,''^ 
winking  at  me,  "  but  I  say  that  half  the  women  in  Yarmouth — aL  1 
and  in  five  miles  round — are  mad  against  that  girl." 


DAVID    COrPERFIELD.  851 

"  Then  she  should  have  kept  to  her  own  station  n  f  fe,  father," 
said  Minnie,  "  and  not  have  given  them  any  hold  to  uilk  about  her 
and  then  thev  couldn't  have  done  it." 

"Couldn't  have  done  it,  my  dear  !"  retorted  Mr.  Omer.  "  Couldn't 
have  done  it !  Is  that  your  knowledge  of  life  ?  What  is  there  that 
any  woman  couldn't  do,  that  she  shouldn't  do — especially  on  the 
subject  of  another  woman's  good  looks  ?" 

I  really  thought  it  was  all  over  with  Mr.  Omer,  after  he  had 
uttered  this  libellous  pleasantry.  He  coughed  to  that  extent,  and 
his  breath  eluded  all  his  attempts  to  recover  it  with  that  obstinacy, 
that  I  fully  expected  to  see  his  head  go  down  behind  the  counter, 
and  his  little  black  breeches,  with  the  rusty  little  bunches  of  ribbons 
at  the  knees,  come  quivering  up  in  a  last  ineflfectual  struggle.  At 
lengtli,  however,  he  got  better,  though  he  still  panted  hard,  and  was 
so  exhausted  that  he  was  obliged  to  sit  on  the  stool  of  the  shop-desk. 

"You  see,"  he  said,  wiping  his  head,  and  breathing  with  dif- 
ficulty, "  she  hasn't  taken  much  to  any  companions  here  ;  she  hasn't 
taken  kindly  to  any  particular  acquaintances  and  friends,  not  to  men- 
tion sweethearts.  In  consequence,  an  ill-natured  story  got  about, 
that  Em'ly  wanted  to  be  a  lady.  Now  my  opinion  is,  that  it  came 
into  circulation  principally  on  account  of  her  sometimes  saying,  at 
the  school,  that  if  she  was  a  lady  she  would  like  to  do  so  and  so  for 
her  uncle — don't  you  see  ? — and  buy  him  such  and  such  fine 
things." 

"  I  assure  you,  Mr.  Omer,  she  has  said  so  to  me,"  I  returned 
eagerly,  "  when  we  were  both  children." 

Mr.  Omer  nodded  his  head  and  rubbed  his  chin.  "  Just  so.  Then 
out  of  a  very  little,  she  could  dress  herself,  you  see,  better  than  most 
others  could  out  of  a  deal,  and  that  made  things  unpleasant.  More- 
over, she  was  rather  what  might  be  called  wayward — I'll  go  so  far 
as  to  say  what  I  should  call  wayward  myself,"  said  Mr.  Omer, — 
"didn't  know  her  own  mind  :uite — a  little  spoiled — and  couldn't,  at 
first,  exactly  bind  herself  down.  No  more  than  that  wjis  ever  said 
aiiainst  her,  Minnie  ?" 

"  No,  father,"  said  Mrs.  Joram.     "  That's  the  worst,  I  believe." 

"  So  when  she  got  a  situation,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  "  to  keep  a  frac- 
tious old  lady  company,  they  didn't  very  well  agree,  and  she  didn't 


352  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

stop.  At  last  she  came  here,  apprenticed  for  three  years.  Nearly 
two  of  'em  are  over,  and  she  has  been  as  good  a  girl  as  ever  was. 
Worth  any  six  !     Minnie,  is  she  worth  any  six,  now  ?" 

"  Yes,  father,"  replied  Minnie.  "  Never  say  /  detracted  from 
her  !" 

"  Veiy  good,"  said  Mr.  Omer.  "  That's  right.  And  so,  joung 
gentleman,"  he  added,  after  a  few  moments'  further  rubbing  of  his 
chin,  "  that  you  may  not  consider  me  long-winded  as  well  as  short- 
breatbed,  I  believe  that's  all  about  it." 

As  they  had  spoken  in  a  subdued  tone,  while  speaking  of  Em'ly, 
I  had  no  doubt  that  she  was  near.  On  my  asking  now,  if  that  were 
not  so,  Mr.  Omer  nodded  yes,  and  iiodded  towards  the  door  of  the 
parlor.  My  hurried  inquiiy  if  I  might  peep  in,  was  answered  with 
a  free  permission  ;  and,  looking  through  the  glass,  I  saw  her  sitting 
at  her  work.  I  saw  her,  a  most  beautiful  little  creature,  with  the 
cloudless  blue  eyes,  that  had  looked  into  my  childish  heart,  turned 
laughingly  upon  another  child  of  Minnie's  who  was  playing  near 
her ;  with  enough  of  wilfulness  in  her  bright  face  to  justify  what 
I  had  heard;  with  much  of  the  old  capricious  coyness  lurking 
in  it ;  bst  with  nothing  in  her  pretty  looks,  I  am  sure,  but  what  was 
meant  for  goodness  and  for  happiness,  and  what  was  on  a  good  and 
happy  course. 

The  tune  across  the  yard  that  seemed  as  if  it  never  had  left  oflf — 
alas  !  it  was  the  tune  that  never  does  leave  off — was  beating,  softly, 
all  the  while. 

"  Wouldn't  you  like  to  step  in,"  said  Mr.  Omer,  "  and  speak  to 
her !     Walk  in  and  speak  to  her,  sir  !     Make  yourself  at  home  !" 

I  was  too  bashful  to  do  so  then — I  was  afraid  of  confusing  her, 
and  I  was  no  less  afraid  of  confusing  myself :  but  I  informed  myself 
of  the  hour  at  which  she  left  of  an  evening,  in  order  that  our  visit 
might  be  timed  accordingly ;  and  taking  leave  of  Mr.  Omer,  and  his 
pretty  daughter,  and  her  little  children,  went  away  to  my  dear  old 
Peggotty's. 

Here  she  was,  in  the  tiled  kitchen,  cooking  dinner !  The  moment 
I  knocked  at  the  door  she  opened  it,  and  asked  me  what  i  pleased 
to  want.  I  looked  at  her  with  a  smile,  but  she  gave  me  no  smile  in 
return.  I  had  never  ceased  to  write  to  her,  but  it  must  have  been 
seven  yeai-s  since  we  had  met. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  863 

"Is  Mr.  Barkis  at  home,  ma'am?"  I  said,  feigning  to  speak 
roughly  to  her. 

"  He  's  at  home,  sir,"  returned  Peggotty,  "  but  he  's  bad  abed 
with  the  rheumatics." 

"  Don't  he  go  over  to  BUmderstone  now  ?"  I  asked. 

"  When  he  's  well,  he  do,"  she  answered. 

"  Do  you  ever  go  there,  Mrs.  Barkis  ?" 

She  looked  at  me  more  attentively,  and  I  noticed  a  quick  move- 
ment of  her  hands  towards  each  other. 

"  Because  I  want  to  ask  a  question  about  a  house  there,  that  they 
call  the — what  is  it  ? — the  Rookery,"  said  L 

She  took  a  step  backwards,  and  put  out  her  hands  m  an  unde- 
cided frightened  way,  as  if  to  keep  me  ofl^ 

"  Peggotty  !"  I  cried  to  her. 

She  cried,  "  My  darhng  boy !"  and  we  both  burst  into  tears,  and 
were  locked  in  one  another's  arms. 

What  extravagances  she  committed  ;  what  laughing  and  crying 
over  me ;  what  pride  she  showed,  what  joy,  what  sorrow  that  she 
whose  pride  and  joy  I  might  have  been,  could  never  hold  me  in  a 
fond  embrace  ;  I  have  not  the  heart  to  tell.  I  was  troubled  with 
no  misgiving  that  it  was  young  in  me  to  respond  to  her  emotions. 
I  had  never  laughed  and  cried  in  all  my  life,  I  dare  say — not  evea 
to  her — more  fi-oely  than  I  did  that  morning. 

"  Barkis  will  be  so  glad,"  said  Peggotty,  wiping  her  eyes  with  her 
apron,  "  that  it  'ill  do  him  more  good  than  pints  of  hniment.  May 
I  go  and  tell  him  you  are  here  ?  Will  you  come  up  and  see  him,  my 
dear  ?" 

Of  course  I  would.  But  Peggotty  could  not  get  out  of  the  room 
as  easily  as  she  meant  to,  for  as  often  as  she  got  to  the  door  and 
looked  round  at  me,  she  came  back  again  to  have  another  laugh 
and  another  cry  upon  my  shoulder.  At  last,  to  make  the  matter 
easier,  I  went  up-stairs  with  her ;  and  having  waited  outside  for  a 
minute,  while  she  said  a  word  of  preparation  to  Mr.  Barkis,  presented 
myself  before  that  invalid. 

He  received  me  with  absolute  enthusiasm.  He  was  too  rheuma- 
tic to  be  shaken  hands  with,  but  he  begged  me  to  shake  the  tassel 
on  the  top  of  his  nightcap,  which  I  did  most  cordially.    When  I  sat 

22 


854  DAVID    COPPEK^IELD. 

down  by  the  side  of  the  bed,  he  said  that  it  did  him  a  world  of  good 
to  feel  as  if  he  was  driving  me  on  the  Blunderstone  road  again.  As 
he  lay  in  bed,  face  upward,  and  so  covered,  with  that  exception,  that 
he  seemed  to  be  nothing  but  a  face — hke  a  conventional  cherubim^ 
— he  looked  the  queerest' object  I  ever  beheld. 

"  What  name  was  it,  as  I  wrote  up  in  the  cart,  sir  ?"  said  Mr. 
Barkis,  vdth  a  slow  rheumatic  smile. 

"  Ah !  Mr.  Barkis,  we  had  some  grave  talks  about  that  matter, 
hadn't  we  ?" 

"  I  was  willin'  a  long  time,  sir  ?"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

"  A  long  time,"  said  I. 

"  And  I  don't  regret  it,"  said  Mr.  Barkis.  "  Do  you  remember 
what  you  told  me  once,  about  her  making  all  the  apple  pasties  and 
doing  all  the  cooking  ?" 

"  Yes  very  well,"  I  returned. 

"  It  was  as  true,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  "  as  turnips  is.  It  was  as  true,'* 
said  Mr.  Barkis,  nodding  his  nighteap,  which  was  his  only  means  of 
emphasis,  "  as  taxes  is.     And  nothing  's  truer  than  them." 

Mr.  Barkis  turned  his  eyes  upon  me,  as  if  for  my  assent  to  this 
result  of  his  reflections  in  bed  ;    and  I  gave  it. 

"  Nothing  's  truer  than  them,"  repeated  Mr.  Barkis  ;  "  a  man  as 
poor  as  I  am  finds  that  out  in  his  mind  when  he  's  laid  up.  I  'm  a 
very  poor  man,  sir." 

"  I  am  sorry  to  hear  it,  Mr.  Barkis." 

"A  very  poor  man,  indeed  I  am,"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

Here  his  right  hand  came  slowly  and  feebly  from  under  the  bed- 
clothes, and  with  a  purposeless  uncertain  grasp  took  hold  of  a  stick 
which  was  loosely  tied  to  the  side  of  the  bed.  After  some  poking 
about  with  this  instrument,  in  the  course  of  which  his  face  assumed 
a  variety  of  distracted  expressions,  Mr,  Barkis  poked  it  against  a  box, 
an  end  of  which  had  been  visible  to  mo  all  the  time.  Tiien  his  face 
became  composed. 

"  Old  clothes,"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

"Oh!"  said  I. 

"  I  wish  it  was  Money,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Barkis. 

"  I  wish  it  was,  indeed,"  said  I. 

"  But  it  ain't,"  said  Mr.  Barkis,  opening  both  his  eyes  as  wide  aa 
he  possibly  could. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  356 

I  expressed  myself  quite  sure  of  that,  and  Mr.  Barkis,  turning  his 
eyes  more  gently  to  his  wife,  said  : 

"  She's  the  usefullest  and  best  of  women,  C.  P.  Barkis.  All  the 
praise  that  any  one  can  give  to  OP.  Barkis,  she  deserves,  and  more  I 
My  dear,  you'll  get  a  dinner  to-day,  for  company  ;  something  good 
to  eat  and  drink,  will  you  ?" 

I  should  have  protested  against  this  unnecessary  demonstration  in 
my  honour,  but  that  I  saw  Peggotty,  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  bed, 
extremely  anxious  that  I  should  not.     So  I  held  my  peace. 

"  I  have  got  a  trifle  of  money  somewhere  about  me,  my  dear,'^ 
said  Mr.  Barkis,  "  but  I'm  a  little  tired.  If  you  and  Mr.  David  will 
leave  me  for  a  short  nap,  I'll  try  and  find  it  when  I  wake." 

We  left  the  room,  in  comphance  with  this  request.  When  we  got 
outside  the  door,  Peggotty  inforjned  me  that  Mr.  Barkis,  being  now 
"  a  little  nearer"  than  he  used  to  be,  always  resorted  to  this  same 
device  before  producing  a  single  coin  from  his  store ;  and  that  he 
endured  unheard-of  agonies  in  crawling  out  of  bed  alone,  and  taking 
it  fi-om  that  unlucky  box.  In  effect,  we  presently  heard  him  uttering 
suppressed  groans  of  the  most  dismal  natui-e,  as  this  magpie  proceeding 
racked  him  in  every  joint ;  but  while  Peggotty's  eyes  were  full  of 
compassion  for  him,  she  said  his  generous  impulse  would  do  him 
good,  and  it  was  better  not  to  check  it.  So  he  groaned  on,  until  he 
had  got  into  bed  again,  suftering,  I  have  no  doubt,  a  martyrdom ; 
and  then  called  us  in,  pretending  to  have  just  woke  up  from  a  re- 
freshing sleep,  and  to  produce  a  guinea  from  under  his  pillow.  His 
satisfaction  in  which  happy  imposition  on  us,  and  in  having  preserved 
the  impenetrable  secret  of  the  box,  appeared  to  be  a  sufficient  com- 
pensation to  him  for  all  his  tortures. 

I  prepared  Peggotty  for  Stcerforth's  arrival,  and  it  was  not  long 
before  he  came.  I  am  persuaded  she  knew  no  difference  between 
his  having  been  a  personal  benefactor  of  hei-s,  and  a  kind  friend  to 
me,  and  that  she  would  have  received  him  with  the  utmost  gratitude 
and  devotion  in  any  case.  But  his  easy,  spirited,  good  humour  ;  his 
genial  manner,  his  handsome  looks,  his  natural  gift  of  adapting  him- 
self to  whomsoever  he  pleased,  and  making  direct,  when  he  cared  to 
do  it,  to  the  main  point  of  interest  in  anybody's  heart ;  bound  her 
to  him  wholly  in  five  minutes.     His  manner  to  me,  alone,  would 


856  DAVID     COPPER  FIELD. 

have  won  her.  But,  tlirougli  all  these  causes  combined,  I  sinceielj 
believe  she  had  a  kind  of  adoration  for  him  before  he  left  the  house 
that  night. 

He  stayed  there  with  nie  to  dinner — if  I  were  to  say  willingly,  I 
should  not  half  express  how  readily  and  gaily.  He  went  into  Mr. 
Barkis's  room  like  light  and  air,  brightening  and  refreshing  it  as  if 
he  were  healthy  weather.  There  was  no  noise,  no  eflfort,  no  con- 
sciousness, in  anything  he  did ;  but  in  everything  an  indescribable 
lightness,  a  seeming  impossibility  of  doing  anything  else,  or  doing 
anything  better,  which  was  so  graceful,  so  natural,  and  agreeable, 
that  it  overcomes  me,  even  now,  in  the  remembrance. 

We  made  merry  in  the  little  parlor,  where  the  Book  of  Martyrs, 
unthumbed  since  my  time,  was  laid  out  upon  the  desk  as  of  old,  and 
where  I  now  turned  over  its  terrific  pictures,  remembering  the  old 
sensations  they  had  awakened,  but  not  feeling  them.  When  Peg- 
gotty  spoke  of  what  she  called  my  room,  and  of  its  being  ready  for 
me  at  night,  and  of  her  hoping  I  would  occupy  it,  before  I  could  so 
much  as  look  at  Steerforth,  hesitating,  he  was  possessed  of  the  whole 
case. 

"  Of  course,"  he  said,  "  you'll  sleep  here,  while  we  stay,  and  I 
shall  sleep  at  the  hotel." 

"  ^ut  to  bring  you  so  far,"  I  returned,  "  and  to  separate,  seems 
bad  companionship,  Steerforth." 

"  Why,  in  the  name  of  Heaven,  where  do  you  naturally  belong !" 
he  said.  "  What  is  '  seems,'  compared  to  that !"  It  was  settled  at 
once. 

He  maintained  all  his  delightful  qualities  to  the  last,  until  we 
started  forth,  at  eight  o'clock,  for  Mr.  Peggotty's  boat.  Indeed,  they 
were  more  and  more  brightly  exhibited  as  ti.;;'  hours  went  on ;  for  I 
thought  even  then,  and  I  have  no  doubt  now,  that  the  consciousness 
of  success  in  his  determination  to  please,  inspired  him  with  a  new 
delicacy  of  }>erception,  and  made  it,  subtle  as  it  was,  more  easy  to 
him.  If  any  one  had  told  me,  then,  that  all  this  was  a  brilliant 
game,  played  for  the  excitement  of  the  moment,  for  the  employment 
of  high  spirits,  in  the  thoughtless  love  of  superiority,  in  a  mere 
wasteful  careless  course  of  winning  what  was  worthless  to  him,  and 
next  minute  thrown  away — I  say,  if  any  one  had  told  me  such  a  lie 


DAVID    COPTERFIELD.  357 

that  night,  I  wonder  in  what  manner  of  receiving  it  my  indignation 
would  have  found  a  vent ! 

Probably  only  in  an  increase,  had  that  been  possible,  of  the 
romantic  feelings  of  fidelity  and  friendship  with  which  I  walked 
beside  him,  over  the  dark  wintry  sands,  towards  the  old  boat ;  the 
wind  sighing  around  us  even  more  mournfully,  than  it  had  sighed 
and  moaned  upon  the  night  when  I  first  darkened  Mr.  Peggotty's 
door. 

"  This  is  a  wild  kind  of  place,  Steerforth,  is  it  not  ?" 

"  Dismal  enough  in  the  dark,"  he  said  ;  "  and  the  sea  roars  as  if 
it  were  huugiy  for  us.  Is  that  the  boat,  where  I  see  a  hght 
yonder  ?" 

"  That's  the  boat,"  said  I. 

"  And  it's  the  same  I  saw  this  morning,"  he  returned.  "  I  came 
straight  to  it,  by  instinct,  I  suppose." 

We  said  no  more  as  we  approached  the  light,  but  made  softly  for 
the  door.  I  laid  my  hand  upon  the  latch  ;  and  whispering  Steer- 
forth  to  keep  close  to  me,  went  in. 

A  murmur  of  voices  had  been  audible  on  the  outside,  and,  at  the 
moment  of  our  entrance,  a  clajjping  of  hands  :  which  latter  noise,  I 
was  surprised  to  see,  proceeded  from  the  generally  disconsolate  Mi-s. 
Gummidge.  But  Mi-s.  Gummidge  was  not  the  only  person  there, 
who  was  unusually  excited.  Mr.  Peggotty,  his  face  lighted  up  with 
uncommon  satisfaction,  and  laughing  with  all  his  might,  held  his 
rough  arms  wide  open,  as  if  for  little  Em'ly  to  run  into  them  ;  Ilam, 
with  a  mixed  expression  in  his  face  of  admiration,  exultation,  and  a 
lumbering  sort  of  bashfulness  that  sat  upon  him  very  well,  held  little 
Em'ly  by  the  hand,  as  if  he  wore  presenting  her  to  Mr.  Peggotty ; 
httle  Em'ly  herself,  blushing  and  shy,  but  dehghted  with  Mr.  Peg- 
gotty's  delight,  as  her  joyous  eyes  expressed,  was  stopped  by  our 
entrance  (for  she  saw  us  fii*st)  in  the  very  act  of  springing  fi'om  Ham 
to  nestle  in  Mr.  Peggotty's  embrace.  In  the  first  ghmpse  we  had 
of  them  all,  and  at  the  moment  of  our  passing  from  the  dark  cold 
night  into  the  warm  hght  room,  this  was  the  way  in  which  they 
were  all  employed  :  Mrs.  Gummidge  in  the  back  ground,  clapping 
her  handt  hke  a  madwoman. 


:f 


858  DAVID    COrPERFIELD. 

The  little  picture  was  so  instantaneously  dissolved  by  our  going 
in,  tbat  one  might  have  doubted  whether  it  had  ever  been.  I  was 
in  the  midst  of  the  astonished  family,  face  to  face  with  Mr.  Peggotty, 
and  holding  out  my  hand  to  him,  when  Ham  shouted : 

"  Mas'r  Davy  !  It's  Mas'r  Davy ! " 

In  a  moment  we  were  all  shaking  hands  with  one  another,  and 
asking  one  another  how  we  did,  and  telling  one  another  how  glad 
■we  were  to  meet,  and  all  talking  at  once.  Mr.  Peggotty  was  so 
proud  and  overjoyed  to  see  us,  that  he  did  not  know  what  to  say  or 
do,  but  kept  over  and  over  again  shaking  hands  with  me,  and  then 
with  Steerforth,  and  then  with  me,  and  then  ruffling  his  shaggy  hair 
all  over  his  head,  and  laughing  with  such  glee  and  triumph,  that  it 
was  a  treat  to  see  him. 

"  Why,  that  you  two  gent'lmen — gent'lmen  growed — should  come 
to  this  here  roof  to-night,  of  all  nights  in  my  life,"  said  Mr.  Peg- 
gotty, "  is  such  a  thing  as  never  happened  afore,  I  do  rightly  be- 
lieve !  Em'ly,  my  darling,  come  here  !  Come  here,  my  little  witch ! 
There's  Mas'r  Davy's  friend,  my  dear !  There's  the  gent'lman  as 
you've  heerd  on,  Em'ly.  He  comes  to  see  you,  along  with  Mas'r 
Davy,  on  the  brightest  night  of  your  uncle's  life  as  ever  was  or  will 
be,  Gorm  the  t'other  one,  and  horroar  for  it ! " 

After  delivering  this  speech  all  in  a  breath,  and  with  extraordinary 
animation  and  pleasure,  Mr.  Peggotty  put  one  of  his  large  hands 
rapturously  on  each  side  of  his  niece's  face,  and  kissing  it  a  dozen 
times,  laid  it  with  a  gentle  pride  and  love  upon  his  broad  chest,  and 
patted  it  as  if  his  hand  had  been  a  lady's.  Then  he  let  her  go ;  and 
as  she  ran  into  the  little  chamber  where  I  used  to  sleep,  looked 
round  upon  us,  quite  hot  and  out  of  breath  with  his  uncommon  satis- 
faction. 

"  If  you  two  gent'lmen — gentl'men  growed  now,  and  such  gent'l- 
men— "  said  Mr.  Peggotty. 

"So  th'are,  so  th'are  !"  cried  Ham.  "Well  said!  So  th'are. 
Mas'r  Davy  bor — gent'lmen  growed — so  th'are  !" 

"  If  you  two  gent'lmen,  gent'lmen  growed,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty, 
"  don't  ex-cuse  me  for  being  in  a  state  of  mind,  when  you  under- 
stand matters,  I'll  arsk  your  pardon.     Em'ly,  my  dear  ! — She  knows 


en 

o 


'^\fi^^'/^ix:^'^'-'^f^fr^^'^ 


V. 


Of 


DAVID    COPPEllFIELD.  359 

Pin  a  going  to  tell,"  here  his  delight  broke  out  again,  "  and  has 
made  off.  Would  you  be  so  good  as  look  arter  her,  Mawther,  for  a 
minute  ?" 

Mrs.  Gummidge  nodded  and  disappeared. 

"  K  this  ain't,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  sitting  down  among  us  by  the 
fire,  "the  brightest  night  o'  my  hfe,  I'm  a  shellfish — biled  too — 
and  more  I  can't  say.  This  here  little  Em'ly,  sir,"  in  a  low  voice  to 
Steerforth,  "  — her  as  you  see  a  blushing  here  just  now — " 

Steerforth  only  nodded ;  but  with  such  a  pleased  expression  of 
interest,  and  of  participation  in  Mr.  Peggotty's  feehngs,  that  the  lat- 
ter answered  him  as  if  he  had  spoken. 

"  To  be  sure,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty.  "  That's  her,  and  so  she  is. 
Thankee,  sir." 

Ham  nodded  to  me  several  times,  as  if  he  would  have  said  so  too. 

"  This  here  httle  Em'ly  of  ours,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  "  has  been, 

in  our  house,  what  I  suppose  (I  'm  a  ignorant  man,  but  that's  my 

belief)  no  one  but  a  little  bright-eyed  creetur  can  be  in  a  house. 

..She  ain't  my  child  ;  I  never  had  one ;  but  I  couldn't  love  her  more. 

You  understand  !     I  couldn't  do  it !" 

"  I  quite  understand,"  said  Steerforth. 

"I  know  you  do,  sir,"  returned  Mr.  Peggotty,  "and  thankee 
again.  Mas'r  Davy,  he  can  remember  what  she  was ;  you  may 
judge  for  your  own  self  what  she  is ;  but  neither  of  you  can't  fully 
inow  what  she  has  been,  is,  and  will  be,  to  my  loving  art.  I  am 
•Dugh,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  "  I  am  as  rough  as  a  Sea  Porkypine ; 
i)ut  no  one,  unless,  mayhap,  it  is  a  woman,  can  know,  I  think,  what 
our  little  Em'ly  is  to  me.  And  betwixt  ourselves,"  sinking  his  voice 
lower  yet,  "  that  woman's  name  ain't  Missis  Gummidge  neither, 
though  she  has  a  world  of  merits." 

Mr.  Peggotty  ruffled  his  hair  again  with  both  hands,  as  a  further 
preparation  for  what  he  was  going  to  say,  and  went  on  with  a  hand 
upon  each  of  his  knees. 

"  There  was  a  certain  person  as  had  know'd  our  Em'ly,  from  the 
time  when  her  father  was  drownded ;  as  had  seen  her  constant ; 
when  a  babby,  when  a  young  gal,  when  a  woman.  Not  much  of  a 
person  to  look  at,  he  warn't,"  said  Mr.  Peggotty,  "  something  o'  my 
own  buill — rough — a  good  deal  o'  the  sou-wester  in  him — wery 


860  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

salt — ^but,  on  tlie  whole,  a  honest  sort  of  a  chap,  with  his  art  in  the 
right  place." 

I  thought  I  had  never  seen  Ham  grin  to  anything  hke  the  extent 
to  which  he  sat  grinning  at  us  now. 

"What  does  this  here  blessed  tarpaulin  go  and  do,"  said  Mr. 
Peggotty,  with  his  face  one  high  noon  of  enjoyment,  "  but  he  loses 
that  there  art  of  his  to  our  little  Em'ly.  He  follers  her  about,  he 
makes  hisself  a  sort  o'  servant  to  her,  he  loses  in  a  great  measure 
his  relish  for  his  wittles,  and  in  the  long  run  he  makes  it  clear  to 
me  wot's  amiss.  Now  I  could  wish  myself,  you  see,  that  our  little 
Em'ly  was  in  a  fair  way  of  being  married.  I  could  wish  to  see  her, 
at  all  ewents,  under  articles  to  a  honest  man  as  had  a  right  to  de- 
fend her.  I  don't  know  how  long  I  may  live,  or  how  soon  I  may 
die  ;  but  I  know  that  if  I  was  capsized,  any  night,  in  a  gale  of 
wind  in  Yarmouth  Roads  here,  and  was  to  see  the  town-lights 
shining  for  the  last  time  over  the  rollers  as  I  couldn't  make  no  head 
against,  I  could  go  down  quieter  for  thinking  '  There's  a  man  ashore 
there,  iron-true  to  my  little  Em'ly,  God  bless  her,  and  no  wrong  can 
touch  rmy  Em'ly  while  so  be  as  that  man  lives !' " 

Mr.  Peggotty,  in  simple  earnestness,  waved  his  right  arm,  as  if 
he  were  waving  it  at  the  town-lights  for  the  last  time,  and  then, 
exchanging  a  nod  with  Ham,  whose  eye  he  caught,  proceeded  as 
before. 

"  Well !  I  counsels  him  to  speak  to  Em'ly.  He  's  big  enough, 
but  he  's  bashfuller  than  a  little  un,  and  he  don't  hke.  So  /  speak. 
*  What !  Him  P  says  Em'ly.  '  Him  that  I  've  know'd  so  intimate 
so  many  years,  and  hke  so  much  !  Oh,  Uncle  !  I  never  can  have 
him.  He  's  such  a  good  fellow !'  I  gives  her  a  kiss,  and  I  says  no 
more  to  her  than  '  My  dear,  you  're  right  to  speak  out,  you  're  to 
choose  for  yourself,  you  're  as  free  as  a  little  bird.'  Then  I  aways  to 
him,  and  I  says,  '  I  ^vish  it  could  have  been  so,  but  it  can't.  But 
you  can  both  be  as  you  was,  and  wot  I  say  to  you  is.  Be  as  you 
was  with  her,  hke  a  man.'  He  says  to  me,  a  shaking  of  my  hand, 
'  I  will !'  he  says.  And  he  was — honorable  and  manful — for  two 
year  going  on,  and  we  was  just  the  same  at  home  here  as  afore." 

Mr.  Peggotty's  face,  which  had  vai'ied  in  its  expression  with  the 
various  stages  of  his  narrative,  now  resumed  all  its  former  triumphaut 


DAVID    COPPEEFIELD.  361 

delight,  as  he  laid  a  hand  upon  ray  knee  and  a  hand  upon  Steerforth'a 
(previously  wetting  them  both,  for  the  greater  emphasis  of  the 
action),  and  divided  the  following  speech  between  us : 

"  All  of  a  sudden,  one  eveninrr — as  it  mitrht  be  to-night — comes 
little  Em'ly  from  her  work,  and  him  with  her !  There  ain't  so  much 
in  that,  you'll  say.  No,  because  he  takes  care  on  her,  like  a  brother, 
arter  dark,  and  indeed  afore  dark,  and  at  all  times.  But  this  tar- 
paulin chap,  he  takes  hold  of  her  hand,  and  he  cries  out  to  me, 
joyful,  '  Look  here  !  This  is  to  be  my  little  wife  !'  And  she  says, 
half  bold  and  half  shy,  and  half  a  laughing  and  half  a  crying,  '  Yes, 
uncle  !  If  you  please.' — If  I  please  !"  cried  Mr.  Peggotty,  rolling 
his  head  in  an  ecstacy  at  the  idea ;  "  Lord,  as  if  I  should  do  any- 
think  else  ! — '  If  you  please,  I  am  steadier  now,  and  I  have  thought 
better  of  it,  and  I'll  be  as  good  a  Uttle  wife  as  I  can  to  him,  for  he's 
a  dear  good  fellow  !'  Tlien  Missis  Gummidge,  she  claj)s  her  hands 
like  a  play,  and  you  come  in.  There !  the  murder's  out !"  said  Mr. 
Peggotty — "  You  come  in  !  It  took  place  this  here  present  hour ; 
and  here's  the  man  that'll  marry  her,  the  minute  she's  out  of  her 
time." 

Ham  staggered,  as  well  he  might,  under  the  blow  Mr.  Peggotty 
dealt  him  in  his  unbounded  joy,  as  a  mark  of  confidence  and  friend- 
ship ;  but  feeling  called  upon  to  say  something  to  us,  he  said,  with 
much  faltering  and  great  difficulty : 

"  She  warn't  no  higher  than  you  was,  Mas'r  Davy — when  you  first 
come — when  I  thought  what 'she'd  grow  up  to  be.  I  see  her  grow 
up — gent'lmen — like  a  flower.  I'd  lay  dovni  my  life  for  her — Mos'r 
Davy — Oh !  most  content  and  cheerful !  She's  more  to  me — 
gent'lmen — than — she's  all  to  me  that  ever  I  can  want,  and  more 
than  ever  I — than  ever  I  could  say.  I — I  love  her  true.  There 
ain't  a  gent'lman  in  all  the  land — nor  yet  sailing  upon  all  the  sea — 
that  can  love  his  lady  more  than  I  love  her,  though  there's  many  a 
common  man — would  say  better — what  he  meant." 

I  thought  it  affecting  to  see  such  a  sturdy  fellow  as  Ham  was  now, 
trembling  in  the  strength  of  what  he  felt  for  the  pretty  little  creature 
who  had  won  his  heart.  I  thought  the  simple  confidence  reposed  in 
us  by  Mr.  Peggotty  and  by  himself,  was,  in  itself,  affecting.  I  was 
afi'ected   by   the   story   altogether.      How  far   my  emotions   were 


862  DAVID    COPrERFIELD. 

influenced  by  the  recollections  of  my  childhood,  T  don't  know. 
Whether  I  had  come  there  with  any  liHgering  fancy  that  I  was  still 
to  love  httle  Em'ly,  I  don't  know.  I  know  that  I  was  rilled  with 
pleasure  by  all  this;  but,  at  first,  with  an  indescribably  sensitive 
pleasure,  that  a  very  httle  would  have  changed  to  pain. 

Therefore,  if  it  had  depended  upon  me  to  touch  the  prevailing 
chord  among  them  with  any  skill,  I  should  have  made  a  poor  hand 
of  it.  But  it  depended  upon  Steerforth :  and  he  did  it  with  such 
addi'ess,  that  in  a  few  minutes  we  were  all  as  easy  and  as  happy  as  it 
was  possible  to  be. 

"  Mr.  Peggotty,"  he  said,  "  you  are  a  thoroughly  good  fellow,  and 
deserve  to  be  as  happy  as  you  are  to-night.  My  hand  upon  it ! 
Ham,  I  give  you  joy,  my  boy.  My  hand  upon  that,  too !  Daisy, 
stir  the  fii'e,  and  make  it  a  brisk  one  !  and  Mr.  Peggotty,  unless  you 
can  induce  your  gentle  niece  to  come  back  (for  whom  I  vacate  this 
seat  in  the  corner,)  I  shall  go.  Any  gap  at  your  fireside  on  such  a 
night — such  a  gap  least  of  all — I  wouldn't  make,  for  the  wealth 
of  the  Indies !" 

So  Mr.  Peggotty  went  into  my  old  room  to  fetch  little  Em'ly.  At 
first  little  Em'ly  didn't  like  to  come,  and  then  Ham  went.  Presently 
they  brought  her  to  the  fireside,  very  much  confused,  and  very  shy, — 
but  she  soon  became  more  assured  when  she  found  how  gently  and 
respectfully  Steerforth  spoke  to  her;  how  skilfully  he  avoided 
anything  that  would  embarrass  her  ;  how  he  talked  to  Mr.  Peggotty 
of  boats,  and  ships,  and  tides,  and  fish  ;  how  he  referred  to  me  about 
the  time  when  he  had  seen  Mr.  Peggotty  at  Salem  House ;  how 
delighted  he  was  with  the  boat  and  all  belonging  to  it ;  how  lightly 
and  easily  he  carried  on,  until  he  brought  us,  by  degrees,  into  a 
charmed  circle,  and  we  were  all  talking  away  without  any  reserve. 

Em'ly,  indeed,  said  little  all  the  evening ;  but  she  looked,  and 
listened,  and  her  face  got  animated,  and  she  was  charming.  Steer- 
forth  told  a  story  of  a  dismal  shipwreck  (which  arose  out  of  his  talk 
with  Mr.  Peggotty),  as  if  he  saw  it  all  before  him — and  little  Em'ly 's 
eyes  were  fastened  on  him  all  the  time,  as  if  she  saw  it  too.  He  told 
us  a  meriy  adventure  of  his  own,  as  a  relief  to  that,  with  as  much 
gaiety  as  if  the  narrati^■e  were  as  fresh  to  him  as  it  was  to  us — and 
little  Em'ly  laughed  until  the  boat  rang  with  the  musical  sounds,  and 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  363 

we  all  laughed  (Steerforth  too),  in  irresistible  sympathy  with  wliat 
was  so  pleasant  and  light-hearted.  He  got  Mr.  Peggotty  to  sing,  or 
rather  to  roar,  "  When  the  stormy  winds  do  blow,  do  blow,  do 
blow  ;"  and  he  sang  a  sailor's  song  himself,  so  pathetically  and 
beautifully,  that  I  could  have  almost  fancied  that  the  real  vnnd 
creeping  sorrowfully  round  the  house,  and  murmuring  low  through 
our  unbroken  silence,  was  there  to  listen. 

As  to  Mrs.  Gmnmidge,  he  roused  that  victim  of  despondency  with 
a  success  never  attained  by  any  one  else  (so  Mr.  Peggotty  informed 
me)  since  the  decease  of  the  old  one.  He  left  her  so  little  leisure  for 
being  miserable  that  she  said  the  next  day  she  thought  she  must 
have  been  bewitched. 

But  he  set  up  no  monopoly  of  the  general  attention,  or  the 
conversation.  When  little  Em'ly  grew  more  courageous,  and  talked 
(but  still  bashfully)  across  the  fire  to  me,  of  our  old  wanderings  upon 
tlie  beach,  to  pick  up  shells  and  pebbles ;  and  when  I  asked  her  if 
she  recollected  how  I  used  to  be  devoted  to  her ;  and  when  we  both 
laughed  and  reddened,  casting  these  looks  back  on  the  pleasant  old 
times,  so  unreal  to  look  at  now ;  he  was  silent  and  attentive,  and 
observed  us  thoughtfully.  She  sat,  at  this  time,  and  all  the  evening, 
on  the  old  locker  in  her  old  little  corner  by  the  fire — Ham  beside 
her,  where  I  used  to  sit.  I  could  not  satisfy  myself  whether  it  wa<^ 
in  her  own  little  tormenting  way,  or  in  a  maidenly  reserve  before  us, 
that  she  kept  quite  close  to  the  wall,  and  away  from  him ;  but  I 
observed  that  she  did  so,  all  the  evening. 

As  I  remember,  it  Avas  almost  midnight  when  we  took  our  leave. 
We  had  had  some  biscuit  and  dried  fish  for  supper,  and  Steerforth 
had  produced  from  his  pocket  a  full  flask  of  Hollands,  which  we  men 
(I  may  say  we  men,  now,  without  a  blush)  had  emptied.  We  parted 
merrily  ;  and  as  they  all  stood  crowded  round  the  door  to  light  us 
as  far  as  they  could  upon  our  road,  I  saw  the  sweet  blue  eyes  of 
little  Em'ly  peeping  after  us,  from  behind  Ham,  and  heard  her  soft 
voice  calling  to  us  to  be  careful  how  we  went. 

"  A  most  engaging  little  Beauty  !"  said  Steerforth,  taking  my  arm. 
"Well !  It's  a  quaint  place,  and  they  are  quaint  company,  and  it's 
quite  a  new  sensation  to  mix  with  them." 

"How   fortunate  we  are,  too,"  I  returned,  "to  have  arrived  to 


864  DAVID    COPPERPIELD. 

witness  their  happiness  in  that  intended  marriage !  I  never  saw 
people  so  happy.  How  dehghtful  to  see  it,  and  to  be  made  the 
sharers  in  their  honest  joy,  as  we  have  been  !" 

"  That's  rather  a  chuckle-headed  fellow  for  the  girl ;  isn't  he  ?'* 
said  Steerforth. 

He  had  been  so  hearty  with  him,  and  with  them  all,  that  I  felt  a 
shock  in  this  unexpected  and  cold  reply.  But  tarning  quickly  upon 
him,  and  seeing  a  laugh  in  his  eyes,  I  answered,  much  reheved : 

"  Ah,  Steerforth  !  It's  well  for  you  to  joke  about  the  poor !  You 
may  skirmish  with  Miss  Dartle,  or  try  to  hide  your  sympathies  in 
jest  from  me,  but  I  know  better.  When  I  see  how  perfectly  you 
understand  them,  how  exquisitely  you  can  enter  into  happiness  like 
this  plain  fisherman's,  or  humour  a  love  like  my  old  nurse's,  I  know 
that  there  is  not  a  joy  or  sorrow,  not  an  emotion,  of  such  people,  that 
can  be  indifferent  to  you.  And  I  admire  and  love  you  for  it, 
Steerforth,  twenty  times  the  more !" 

He  stopped,  and,  looking  in  my  face,  said,  "  Daisy,  I  believe  you 
are  in  earnest,  and  are  good.  I  wish  we  all  were  !"  Next  moment 
he  was  gaily  singing  Mr.  Peggotty's  song,  as  we  walked  at  a  round 
pace  back  to  Yarmouth. 


CHAPTER  XXII. 

SOME  OLD  SCENES,  AND  SOME  NEW  PEOPLK. 

Steerforth  and  I  stayed  for  more  than  a  fortnight  in  that  part 
of  the  country.  We  were  very  much  together,  I  need  not  say ;  but 
occasionally  we  were  asunder  for  some  hours  at  a  time.  He  was  a 
good  sailor,  and  I  was  but  an  indifferent  one  ;  and  when  he  went  out 
boating  with  Mr.  Peggotty,  which  was  a  favorite  amusement  of  liis, 
I  generally  remained  ashore.  My  occupation  of  Peggottv's  suare- 
room  put  a  constraint  upon  me,  fi'om  which  he  was  free :  for,  know- 
ing how  assiduously  she  attended  on  Mr.  Barkis  all  day,  I  did  not 
like  to  remain  out  late  at  night ;  whereas  Steerforth,  lying  at  the 
Inn,  had  nothing  to  consult  but  his  own  humour.  Thus  it  came 
about,  that  I  heard  of  his  making  little  treats  for  the  fishermen  at  Mr. 
t*eggotty's  house  of  call,  "  The  Willing  Mind,"  after  I  was  in  bed, 
and  of  his  being  afloat,  wrapped  in  fisherman's  clothes,  whole  moon- 
light nights,  and  coming  back  when  the  morning  tide  was  at  flood. 
By  this  time,  however,  I  knew  that  his  restless  nature  and  bold 
spirits  delighted  to  find  a  vent  in  rough  toil  and  hard  weather,  as  in 
any  other  means  of  excitement  that  presented  itself  freshly  to  him ; 
so  none  of  his  proceedings  surj)rised  me. 

Another  cause  of  our  being  sometimes  apart,  was,  that  I  had 
naturally  an  interest  in  going  over  to  Blunderstone,  and  revisiting 
the  old  familiar  scenes  of  my  childhood  ;  while  Steerforth,  after  being 
there  once,  had  naturally  no  great  interest  in  going  there  again. 
Hence,  on  three  or  four  days  that  I  can  at  once  recal,  we  went  our 
several  ways  after  an  early  breakfast,  and  met  again  at  a  late  dinner. 
I  had  no  idea  how  he  employed  his  time  in  the  interval,  beyond  a 
general  knowledge  that  he  was  very  popular  in  the  place,  and  had 
twenty  means  of  actively  diverting  himself  where  another  man  might 
not  have  found  one. 

366 


866  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

For  my  own  part,  my  occupation  in  ray  solitary  pilgiimages  was 
to  recal  every  yard  of  the  old  road  as  I  went  along  it,  and  to  haunt 
the  old  spots,  of  which  I  never  tired.  I  haunted  them,  as  my 
memory  had  often  done,  and  lingered  among  them  as  my  younger 
thoughts  had  lingered  when  I  was  far  away.  The  grave  beneath 
the  tree,  where  both  my  parents  lay — on  which  I  had  looked  out, 
when  it  was  my  father's  only,  with  such  curious  feelings  of  compas- 
sion, and  by  which  I  had  stood,  so  desolate,  when  it  was  opened  to 
receive  my  pretty  mother  and  her  baby — the  grave  which  Peggot- 
ty's  own  faithful  care  had  ever  since  kept  neat,  and  made  a  garden 
of,  I  walked  near,  by  the  hour.  It  lay  a  httle  off  the  church-yard 
path,  in  a  quiet  corner,  not  so  far  removed  but  I  could  read  the 
names  upon  the  stone  as  I  walked  to  and  fro,  startled  by  the  sound 
of  the  church-bell  when  it  struck  the  hour,  for  it  was  like  a  departed 
voice  to  me.  My  reflections  at  these  times  were  always  associated 
with  the  figure  I  was  to  make  in  life,  and  the  distinguished  things  I 
was  to  do.  My  echoing  footsteps  went  to  no  other  tune,  but  were 
as  constant  to  that  as  if  I  had  come  home  to  build  my  castles  in  the 
air  at  a  living  mother's  side. 

There  were  great  changes  in  my  old  home.  The  ragged  nests,  so 
long  deserted  by  the  rooks,  were  gone ;  and  the  trees  were  lopped 
and  topped  out  of  their  remembered  shapes.  The  garden  had  run  wild, 
and  half  the  windows  of  the  house  were  shut  up.  It  was  occupied, 
but  only  by  a  poor  lunatic  gentleman,  and  the  people  who  took  care 
of  him.  He  was  always  sitting  at  my  little  window,  looking  out  into 
the  church-yard  ;  and  I  wondei'ed  whether  his  rambling  thoughts  ever 
went  upon  any  of  the  fancies  that  used  to  occupy  mine,  on  the  rosy 
mornings  when  I  peeped  out  of  that  same  little  window  in  my 
night-clothes,  and  saw  the  sheep  quietly  feeding  in  the  light  of  the 
rising  sun. 

Our  old  neighbours,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Grayper,  were  gone  to  South 
America,  and  the  rain  had  made  its  way  through  the  roof  of  their 
empty  house,  and  stained  the  outer  walls.  Mr.  Chillip  was  married 
again  to  a  tall,  raw-boned,  high-nosed  wife  ;  and  they  had  a  weazen 
little  baby,  vvdth  a  heavy  head  that  it  couldn't  hold  up,  and  two 
weak  staring  eyes,  with  which  it  seemed  to  be  always  wondering 
why  it  had  ever  been  born. 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  867 

It  was  with  a  singular  jumble  of  sadness  and  pleasure  that  I  used 
to  linger  about  my  native  place,  until  the  reddening  winter  sun 
admonished  me  that  it  was  time  to  start  on  my  returning  walk. 
But,  when  the  place  was  left  behind,  and  especially  when  Steerforth 
and  I  were  happily  seated  over  our  dinner  by  a  blazing  fire,  it  was 
delicious  to  think  of  having  been  there.  So  it  was,  though  in  a 
softened  degree,  when  I  went  to  my  neat  room  at  night ;  and,  turning 
over  the  leaves  of  the  crocodile-book  (which  was  always  there,  upon 
a  little  table),  remembered  with  a  giateful  heart  how  blest  I  was  in 
having  such  a  friend  as  Steerforth,  such  a  friend  as  Peggotty,  and 
such  a  substitute  for  what  I  had  lost  as  ray  excellent  and  generous 
aunt. 

My  nearest  way  to  Yarmouth,  in  coming  back  from  these  long  , 
walks,  was  by  a  ferry.  It  landed  me  on  the  flat  between  the  town 
and  the  sea,  which  I  could  make  straight  across,  and  so  save  myseJl 
a  considerable  circuit  by  the  high  road.  Mr.  Peggotty's  house  being 
on  that  waste-place,  and  not  a  hundred  yards  out  of  my  track,  I 
always  looked  in  as  I  went  by.  Steerforth  was  pretty  sure  to  be 
there  expecting  me,  and  we  went  on  together  through  the  frosty  ail 
and  gathering  fog  towards  the  twinkling  liglits  of  the  town. 

One  dark  evenino;,  when  I  was  later  than  usual — for  I  had  that 
day  been  making  my  parting  visit  to  Blunderstone,  as  we  were  now 
about  to  return  home — I  found  him  alone  in  Mr.  Peggotty's  house, 
sitting  thoughtfully  before  the  fire.  He  was  so  intent  upon  his  own 
reflections  that  he  was  quite  unconscious  of  my  approach.  This, 
indeed,  he  might  easily  have  been  if  he  had  been  less  absorbed,  for 
footsteps  fell  noiselessly  on  the  sandy  ground  outside ;  but  eveo 
my  entrance  failed  to  rouse  him.  I  was  standing  close  to  him,  look- 
ing at  him  ;  and  still,  with  a  heavy  brow,  he  was  lost  in  his  medita- 
tions. 

He  gave  such  a  start  when  I  put  my  hand  upon  his  shoulder,  that 
be  made  me  start  too. 

"  You  come  upon  me,"  he  said,  almost  angrily,  "  like  a  reproach- 
ful ghost.'" 

"  I  was  obliged  to  announce  myself  somehow,"  I  rephed.  "  Have 
I  called  you  down  fi"om  the  stars  ?" 

"  No,"  he  answered.     "  No." 


868  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Up  from  anywhere,  then  ?"  said  I  taking  ray  seat  near  him. 

"  I  was  looking  at  the  pictures  in  the  fire,"  he  returned. 

"  But  you  are  spoiling  them  for  me,"  said  I,  as  he  stirred  it 
quickly  with  a  piece  of  burning  wood,  striking  out  of  it  a  train  of 
red-hot  sparks  that  went  careering  up  the  httle  chimney,  and  roaring 
out  into  the  air. 

"  You  would  not  have  seen  them,"  he  returned.  "  I  detest  this 
mongrel  time,  neither  day  nor  night.  How  late  you  are  !  Where 
have  you  been  ?" 

"  I  have  been  taking  leave  of  my  usual  walk,"  said  I. 

"  And  I  have  been  sitting  here,"  said  Steerforth,  glancing  round 
the  room,  "  thinking  that  all  the  people  we  found  so  glad  on  the 
night  of  our  coming  down,  might — to  judge  from  the  present 
wasted  air  of  the  place — be  dispersed,  or  dead,  or  come  to  I  don't 
\now  what  harm.  David,  I  wish  to  God  I  had  had  a  judicious 
father  these  last  twenty  years  !" 

"  My  dear  Steerforth,  what  is  the  matter  ?" 

"  I  wish  with  all  my  soul  I  had  been  better  guided !"  he  exclaimed. 
"  I  wish  with  all  my  soul  I  could  guide  myself  better !"   ' 

There  was  a  passionate  dejection  in  his  manner  that  quite 
amazed  me.  He  was  more  unhke  himself  than  I  could  have  sup- 
posed possible. 

"  It  would  be  better  to  be  this  poor  Peggotty,  or  his  lout  of  a 
nephew,"  he  said,  getting  up  and  leaning  moodily  against  the 
chimney-piece,  with  his  face  towards  the  fire,  "  than  to  be  myself, 
twenty  times  richer  and  twenty  times  wiser,  and  be  the  torment  to 
myself  that  I  have  been,  in  this  Devil's  bark  of  a  boat,  within  the 
last  half  hour !" 

I  was  so  confounded  by  the  alteration  in  him,  that  at  first  I  could 
only  observe  him  in  silence,  as  he  stood  leaning  his  head  upon  his 
hand,  and  looking  gloomily  down  at  the  fire.  At  length  1  begged 
him,  with  all  the  earnestness  I  felt,  to  tell  me  what  had  occurred  to 
cross  him  so  unusually,  and  to  let  me  sjTnpathise  with  him,  if  I  could 
not  hope  to  advise  him.  Before  I  had  well  concluded,  he  began 
to  laugh — fretfully  at  first,  but  soon  with  returning  gaiety. 

"  Tut,  it's  nothing,  Daisy  !  nothing !"  he  replied.  "  I  told  you,  at 
the  inn  in  London,  I  am  heavy  company  for  myself  sometimes.     I 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  869 

have  been  a  nightmare  to  myself,  just  now — must  have  had  one,  I 
think.  At  odd  dull  times,  nursery  tales  come  up  into  the  memory, 
unrecognised  for  what  they  are.  I  believe  I  have  been  confounding 
myself  with  the  bad  boy  who  '  didn't  care,'  and  became  food  for 
Hons — a  grander  kind  of  going  to  the  dog's,  I  suppose.  What  old 
women  call  the  hoi-rors,  have  been  creeping  over  me  fi-om  head  to 
foot.     I  have  been  afraid  of  myself." 

"  You  are  afraid  of  nothing  else,  I  think,"  said  I. 

"  Perhaps  not,  and  yet  may  have  enough  to  be  afraid  of  too,"  he 
answered.  "  Well  !  So  it  goes  by  !  I  am  not  about  to  be  hipped 
again,  Dand ;  but  I  tell  you,  my  good  fellow,  once  more,  that  it 
would  have  been  well  for  me  (and  for  more  than  me)  if  I  had  had  a 
steadfast  and  judicious  father  !" 

His  face  was  always  full  of  expression,  but  I  never  saw  it  express 
such  a  dark  kind  of  earnestness  as  when  he  said  these  words,  with 
his  glance  bent  on  the  fire. 

"  So  much  for  that !"  he  said,  making  as  if  he  tossed  something 
light  into  the  air  with  his  hand, 

«  «  Why,  being  gone,  I  am  a  man  again/ 

like  Macbeth.  And  now  for  dinner !  If  T  have  not  (Macbeth-like) 
hi'oken  up  the  feast  with  most  admired  disoi'der,  Daisy." 

"  But  where  are  they  all,  I  wonder !"  said  I. 

"  God  knows,"  said  Steerforth.  "  After  strolHng  lo  the  ferry  look- 
ing for  you,  I  strolled  in  here  and  found  the  place  deserted.  That 
set  me  thinking,  and  you  found  me  thinking." 

The  advent  of  Mrs.  Gummidge,  with  a  basket,  explained  how  the 
house  happened  to  be  empty.  She  had  hurried  out  to  buy  something 
that  was  needed,  against  Mr.  Peggotty's  return  with  the  tide  ;  and 
had  left  the  door  open  in  the  meanwhile,  lest  Ham  and  little  Eni'l}'^, 
with  whom  it  was  an  early  night,  should  come  home  while  she  was 
gone.  Steerforth,  after  very  much  improving  Mrs.  Gummidge's 
spirits  by  a  cheerful  salutation,  and  a  jocose  embrace,  took  my  arm, 
and  hurried  me  away. 

He  had  improved  his  own  spirits,  no  less  than  Mrs.  Gummidge's, 
for  they  were  again  at  their  usual  flow,  and  he  was  full  of  vivacioiia 
oonversation  as  we  went  along. 

23 


370  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"And  80,"  he  said,  gaily,  "we  abandou  tliis  buccaneer  life  to-mor- 
row, do  we  ?" 

"  So  we  agreed,"  I  returned.  "  And  our  places  by  the  coach  are 
taken,  you  know." 

"  Ay  !  there's  no  help  for  it,  I  suppose,"  said  Steerforth.  "  I  have 
almost  forgotten  that  there  is  anything  to  do  in  the  world  but  to  go 
out  tossing  on  the  sea  here.     I  wish  there  was  not." 

"  As  long  as  the  novelty  should  last,"  said  I,  laughing. 

"  Like  enough,"  he  returned  ;  "  though  there's  a  sarcastic  mean- 
ing in  that  observation  for  an  amiable  piece  of  innocence  like  my 
young  friend.  Well !  I  dare  say  I  am  a  capricious  fellow,  David.  I 
know  I  am  ;  but  while  the  iron  is  hot,  I  can  strike  it  vigorously  too. 
I  could  pass  a  reasonably  good  examination  already,  as  a  pilot  in 
these  watei's,  I  thiuk." 

"  Mr.  Peggotty  says  you  are  a  wonder,"  I  returned. 

"  A  nautical  phenomenon,  eh  ?"  laughed  Steerforth. 

/'  Indeed  he  does,  and  you  know  how  truly  ;  knowing  how  ardent 
you  are  in  any  pursuit  you  follow,  and  how  easily  you  can  master  it. 
And  that  amazes  me  most  in  you,  Steerfoilh — that  you  should  be 
contented  with  such  fitful  nses  of  your  powers." 

"  Contented  ?"  he  answered,  merrily.  "  I  am  never  contented, 
except  with  your  freshness,  my  gentle  Daisy.  As  to  fitfulness,  I 
have  never  learnt  the  art  of  binding  myself  to  any  of  the  wheels 
on  which  the  Ixions  of  these  days  are  turning  round  and  round.  I 
missed  it  somehow  in  a  bad  apprenticeship,  and  now  don't  care  about 
it.     You  know  I  have  bought  a  boat  down  here  ?" 

"  What  an  extraordinary  fellow  you  are,  Steerforth  !"  I  exclaimed, 
stopping — for  this  was  the  first  I  had  heard  of  it.  "  When  you  may 
never  care  to  come  near  the  place  again !" 

"  I  don't  know  that,"  he  returned.  "  I  have  taken  a  fancy  to 
the  place.  At  all  events,"  walking  me  briskly  on,  "  I  have  bought 
a  boat  that  was  for  sale — a  clipper,  Mr.  Peggotty  says ;  and  so  she 
is — and  Mr.  Peggotty  will  be  master  of  her  in  my  absence." 

"  Now  I  understand  you,  Steerforth  !"  said  I,  exultingly.  "  You 
pretend  to  have  bought  it  for  yourself,  but  you  have  really  done  so  to 
confer  a  benefit  on  him.  I  might  have  known  as  much  at  first, 
knowing  you.  My  dear  kind  Steerforth,  how  can  I  tell  you  what  I 
think  of  your  generosity  ?" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  871 

"  Tush !"  he  answered,  turning  red.     "  The  less  said,  the  better." 

*'  Didn't  I  know  ?"  ciied  I,  "  didn't  I  say  that  there  was  not  a  joy, 
or  sorrow,  or  any  emotion  of  si  ch  honest  hearts  that  was  indifferent 
to  you  ?" 

"  Aye,  aye,"  he  answered,  "  you  told  me  all  that  There  let  it  rest. 
We  have  said  enough  !" 

Afraid  of  offending  him  by  pursuing  the  subject  when  he  made  so 
light  of  it,  I  only  pursued  -it  in  my  thoughts  as  we  went  on  at  even 
a  quicker  pace  than  before. 

"  She  must  be  newly  rigged,"  said  Steerforth,  "  and  I  shall  leave 
Littimer  behind  to  see  it  done,  that  I  may  know  she  is  quite  com- 
plete.    Did  I  tell  you  Littimer  had  come  down  ?" 

"No." 

"  Oh,  yes !  came  down  this  morning,  with  a  letter  from  my 
mother." 

As  our  looks  met,  I  observed  that  he  was  pale  even  to  his  lips, 
though  he  looked  very  steadily  at  me.  I  feared  that  some  differ- 
ence between  him  and  his  mother  might  have  led  to  his  being  in  the 
frame  of  mind  in  which  I  had  found  him  at  the  sohtary  fireside.  I 
hinted  so. 

"  Oh,  no  !"  he  said,  shaking  his  head,  and  giving  a  slight  laugh. 
"  Nothing  of  the  sort !     Yes.     He  is  come  down,  that  man  of  mine." 

"  The  same  as  ever  ?"  said  I. 

"  The  same  as  ever,"  said  Steerforth.  "  Distant  and  quiet  as  the 
North  Pole.  He  shall  see  to  the  boat  being  fresh  named.  She's 
the  Stormy  Petrel  now.  What  does  Mr.  Peggotty  care  for  Stormy 
Petrels  1     I'll  have  her  christened  atjain." 

"  By  what  name  ?"  I  asked. 

"The  Little  Em'ly." 

As  he  had  continued  to  look  steadily  at  me,  I  took  it  as  a  reminder 
that  he  objected  to  being  extolled  for  his  consideration.  I  could  not 
help  showing  in  my  face  how  much  it  pleased  me,  but  I  said  little, 
and  he  resumed  his  usual  smile,  and  seemed  relieved. 

"  But  see  here,"  he  said,  looking  before  us,-  "  where  the  original 
little  Em'ly  comes !  And  that  fellow  with  her,  eh  ?  Upon  my 
soul,  he's  a  true  knight.     He  never  leaves  her  !" 

Ham  was  a  boat-builder  in  these  days,  having  improved  a  natural 


S72  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

ingenuity  in  that  handici-aft,  until  he  had  beci  me  a  skilled  work- 
man. He  was  in  liis  woikino'-drt-ss,  and  looked  ruo-o-ed  enouo-h,  but 
manly  withal,  and  a  very  fit  protector  for  the  blooming  little  creature 
at  his  side.  Indeed,  there  was  a  franl<ness  in  his  face,  an  honesty, 
and  an  undisguised  show  of  his  pride  in  her,  and  his  love  fur  her, 
which  were,  to  me,  the  best  of  good  looks.  I  thought,  as  they  came 
towards  us,  that  they  were  well  matched  ^even  in  that  particular. 

She  withdrew  her  hand  timidly  from  his  arm  as  we  stopped  to 
speak  to  them,  and  blushed  as  she  gave  it  to  Steerforth  and  to  me. 
When  they  passed  on,  after  we  had  exchanged  a  few  words,  she  did 
not  like  to  replace  that  hand,  but,  still  appearing  timid  and  con- 
strained, walked  by  herself.  I  thought  all  this  very  pretty  and 
engaging,  and  Steerforth  seemed  to  think  so  too,  as  we  looked  after 
them  fading  away  in  the  light  of  a  young  moon. 

Suddenly  there  passed  us — evidently,  following  them — a  young 
woman  whose  approach  we  had  not  observed,  but  whose  face  I  saw 
as  she  went  by,  and  thought  I  had  a  faint  remembrance  of.  She 
was  lightly  dressed ;  looked  bold,  and  haggard,  and  flaunting,  and 
poor ;  but  seemed,  for  the  time,  to  have  given  all  that  to  the  wind 
which  was  blowing,  and  to  have  nothing  in  her  mind  but  going  after 
them.  As  the  dark  distant  level,  absorbing  their  figures  into  itself, 
left  but  itself  visible  between  us  and  the  sea  and  clouds,  her  figure 
disappeared  in  like  manner,  still  no  nearer  to  them  than  before. 

"  That  is  a  black  shadow  to  be  following  the  girl,"  said  Steerforth, 
standing  still ;  "  what  does  it  mean  ?" 

He  spoke  in  a  low  voice  that  sounded  almost  strange  to  me. 

"  She  must  have  it  in  her  mind  to  beg  of  them,  I  think,"  said  I. 

"  A  beggar  would  be  no  novelty,"  said  Steerforth,  "  but  it  is  a 
strange  thing  that  the  beggar  should  take  that  shape  to-night." 

"Why?"  I  asked  him. 

"  For  no  better  reason,  truly,  than  because  I  was  thinking,"  he 
said,  after  a  pause,  "  of  something  like  it,  when  it  came  by.  Where 
the  Devil  did  it  come  from,  I  wonder !" 

"  From  the  shadow  of  this  wall,  I  think,"  said  I,  as  we  emerged 
upon  a  road  on  which  a  wall  abutted. 

"  It's  gone  !"  he  returned  looking  over  his  shoulder.  "  And  all 
ill  go  with  it.     Now  for  our  dinner !" 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  873 

But,  he  looked  again  over  his  shoulder  towards  the  sea-line  glim- 
mering afar  oflF;  and  yet  again.  And  he  wondered  about  it,  in  some 
broken  expressions,  several  times,  in  the  short  remainder  of  our  walk  ; 
and  only  seemed  to  forget  it  when  the  light  of  fire  and  candle  shono 
upon  us,  seated  warm  and  merry,  at  table. 

Littimer  was  there,  and  had  his  usual  effect  upon  me.  When  I 
said  to  him  that  I  hoped  Mrs.  Steerforth  and  Miss  Dartle  were  well, 
he  answered  respectfully  (and  of  course  respectably),  that  they  were 
tolerably  well,  he  thanked  me,  and  had  sent  their  compliments. 
This  was  all,  and  yet  he  seemed  to  me  to  say  as  plainly  as  a  man 
could  say  :  "  You  are  very  young,  sir ;  you  are  exceedingly  young." 

We  had  almost  finished  dinner,  when  taking  a  step  or  two  towards 
the  table,  fi'om  the  corner  whore  he  kept  watch  upon  us,  or  rathei 
upon  me,  as  I  felt,  he  said  to  his  master ; 

"  I  beg  your  pardon,  sir.     Miss  Mowcher  is  down  here." 

''  Who  ?"  cried  Steerforth,  much  astonished. 

"  Miss  Mowcher,  sir." 

"  Why,  what  on  earth  does  she  do  here  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  It  appears  to  be  her  native  part  of  the  country,  sir.  She  informs 
me  that  she  makes  one  of  her  professional  visits  here,  every  year,  sir. 
T  met  her  in  the  street  this  afternoon,  and  she  wished  to  know  if  she 
mio^ht  have  the  honor  of  v/aitiniv  on  vou  after  dinner,  sir." 

"  Do  you  know  the  Giantess  in  question,  Daisy  ?"  inquired  Steer- 
forth. 

I  was  obliged  to  confess — I  felt  ashamed,  ev^n  of  being  at  this 
disadvantage  before  Littimer — that  Miss  Mowcher  and  I  were  -wholly 
unacquainted. 

"Then  you  shall  know  her,"  said  Steerforth,  "for  she  is  one  of  the 
seven  wonders  of  the  world.  A\  hen  Miss  Mowcher  comes,  show  her 
in." 

I  felt  some  curiosity  and  excitement  about  this  lady,  especially  as 
Steerforth  burst  into  a  fit  of  laughing  when  I  referred  to  her,  and 
positively  refused  to  answer  any  question  of  which  I  made  her  the 
subject.  I  remained,  therefore,  in  a  state  of  considerable  expectation 
until  the  cloth  had  been  removed  some  lialf  an  hour,  and  we  were 
sitting  over  our  decanter  of  wine  before  the  fire,  when  the  door 


374  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

opened,  and  Littimer,  with  his  habitual  serenity  quite  undisturbe(\ 
announced  : 

"  Miss  Mowcher !" 

I  looked  at  the  doorway  and  saw  nothing.  I  was  still  looking  at 
the  doorway,  thinking  that  Miss  Mowcher  was  a  long  while  making 
her  appearance,  when,  to  my  infinite  astonishment,  there  came  wad- 
dling round  a  sofa  which  stood  between  me  and  it,  a  pursy  dwarf, 
of  about  forty  or  forty-five,  with  a  very  large  head  and  face,  a  pair 
of  roguish  grey  eyes,  and  such  extremely  little  arms,  that,  to  enable 
herself  to  lay  a  finger  archly  against  her  snub  nose,  as  she  ogled 
Steerforth,  she  was  obhged  to  meet  the  finger  half-way,  and  lay  her 
nose  against  it.  Her  chin,  which  was  what  is  called  a  double-chin, 
was  so  fat  that  it  entirely  swallowed  up  the  strings  of  her  bonnet, 
bow  and  all.  Throat  she  had  none ;  waist  she  had  none ;  legs  she 
had  none,  worth  mentioning ;  for  though  she  was  more  than  full- 
sized  down  to  where  her  waist  would  have  been,  if  she  had  had  any, 
and  though  she  terminated,  as  human  beings  generally  do,  in  a  pair 
of  feet,  she  was  so  short  that  she  stood  at  a  common-sized  chair  as 
at  a  table,  resting  a  bag  she  carried  on  the  seat.  This  lady  ;  dress- 
ed in  an  off-hand,  easy  style  ;  bringing  her  nose  and  her  forefinger 
together,  with  the  difficulty  I  have  described ;  standing  with  her 
head  necessarily  on  one  side,  and,  with  one  of  her  sharp  eyes  shut 
up,  making  an  uncommonly  knowing  face  ;  after  ogling  Steerforth  for 
a  few  moments,  broke  into  a  torrent  of  words. 

"  What !  My  flower !"  she  pleasantly  began,  shaking  her  large 
head  at  him.  "  You  're  there,  are  you !  Oh,  you  naughty  boy,  fie 
for  shame,  what  do  you  do  so  far  away  from  home  ?  Up  to  mis- 
chief, I  '11  be  bound.  Oh,  you  're  a  downy  fellow,  Steerforth,  so 
you  are,  and  I  'm  another,  ain't  I  ?  Ha,  ha,  ha  !  You  'd  have  bet- 
ted a  hundred  pound  to  five,  now,  that  you  wouldn't  have  seen  me 
here,  wouldn't  you  ?  Bless  you,  man  alive,  I  'm  everywhere.  I  'm 
here  and  there,  and  where  not,  like  the  conjuror's  half-crown  in  the 
lady's  hankercher.  Talking  of  hankerchers — and  talking  of  ladies — • 
what  a  comfort  you  are  to  your  blessed  mother,  ain't  you,  my  dear 
boy,  over  one  of  my  shoulders,  and  I  don't  say  which  !" 

Miss  Mowcher  untied  her  bonnet,  at  this  passage  of  her  discourse, 
threw  back  the  strings,  and  sat  down,  panting,  on  a  footstool  in 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  875 

front  of  the  fire — making  a  kind  of  arbor  of  the  dining-table,  which 
spread  its  mahogany  shelter  above  her  head.   - 

"  Oh  my  stars  and  what's-their-names  !"  she  went  on,  clapping  a 
hand  on  each  of  her  httle  knees,  and  glancing  shrewdly  at  me,  "  1  'm 
of  too  full  a  habit,  that  's  the  fact,  Steerforth.  After  a  flight  of  stairs, 
it  gives  me  as  much  trouble  to  di'aw  every  breath  I  want,  as  if  it 
was  a  bucket  of  water.  If  you  saw  me  looking  out  of  an  upper 
window,  you  'd  think  I  was  a  fine  woman,  wouldn't  you  ?" 

"  I  should  think  that  wherever  I  saw  you,"  replied  Steerforth. 

"  Go  along,  you  dog,  do !"  cried  the  little  creature,  making  a 
whisk  at  him  with  the  handkerchief  with  which  she  was  wiping  her 
face,  "  and  don't  be  impudent !  But  I  give  you  my  word  and  honor 
I  was  at  Lady  Mithers's  last  week — there's  a  woman  !  How  she 
wears ! — and  Mithers  himself  came  into  the  room  where  I  was  wait- 
ing for  her — therms  a  man  !  How  he  wears  !  and  his  wig  too,  for 
he  's  had  it  these  ten  years — and  he  went  on  at  that  rate  in  the 
complimentary  line,  that  I  began  to  think  that  I  should  be  obliged 
to  ring  the  bell.  Ha !  ha !  ha  !  He  's  a  pleasant  wi-etch,  but  he 
wants  principle." 

"  What  were  you  doing  for  Lady  Mithers  ?"  asked  Steerforth. 

"  That's  tellings,  my  blessed  infant,"  she  retorted,  tapping  her 
nose  again,  screwing  up  her  face,  and  twinkling  her  eyes  hke  an  imp 
of  supernatural  intelligence.  "  Never  you  mind  !  You  'd  like  to 
know  whether  I  stop  her  hair  from  falling  off,  or  dye  it,  or  touch  up 
her  complexion,  or  improve  her  eyebrows,  wouldn't  you  ?  And  so 
you  shall,  my  darling — when  I  tell  you !  Do  you  know  what  my 
great  grandfather's  name  was  ?" 

"  No,"  said  Steerforth. 

"  It  was  Walker,  my  sweet  pet,"  replied  Miss  Mowcher,  "  and  he 
came  of  a  long  hne  of  Walkei-s,  that  I  inherit  all  the  Hookey  estates 
from." 

I  never  beheld  anything  approaching  to  Miss  Mowcher's  wink, 
except  Miss  Mowcher's  self-})Ossession.  She  had  a  wonderful  wav 
too,  when  listening  to  what  was  said  to  her,  or  when  waiting  for  an 
answer  to  what  she  had  said  hereelf,  of  pausing  with  her  head  cim- 
ningly  on  one  side,  and  one  ^ye  turned  up  like  a  magpie's.  Alto 
gether  I  wjis  lost  in  amazement,  and  sat  staring  at  her,  quite  obli- 
vious, I  am  afraid,  of  the  laws  of  politeness. 


876  DAVID    COPPERFIELD 

She  liad  by  this  time  drawn  the  chair  to  her  side,  an  li  was  busily 
engaged  in  producing  fi*om  the  bag  (plunging  in  her  short  arm  to 
the  shoulder  at  every  dive)  a  number  of  small  bottles,  sponges, 
combs,  brushes,  bits  of  jElannel,  little  pairs  of  curhng  irons,  and  other 
instruments,  which  she  tumbled  in  a  heap  upon  the  chair.  From 
this  employment  she  suddenly  desisted,  and  said  to  Steerforth,  much 
to  my  confusion : 

"  Who  's  your  friend  ?" 

"  Mr.  Copperfield,"  said  Steerforth  ;  "  he  wants  to  know  you." 

"  Well,  then,  he  shall !  I  thought  he  looked  as  if  he  did  !"  re 
turned  Miss  Mowcher,  waddling  up  to  me,  bag  in  hand,  and  laugh- 
ing on  me  as  she  came.  "  Face  like  a  peach  !"  standijig  on  tiptoe 
to  pinch  my  cheek  as  I  sat.  "  Quite  tempting  !  I  'm  very  fond  of 
peaches.  Happy  to  make  your  acquaintance,  Mr.  Copperfield,  I  'm 
sure." 

I  said  that  I  congratulated  myself  on  having  the  honor  to  make 
hers,  and  that  the  happiness  was  mutual. 

"  Oh  my  goodness,  how  polite  we  are !"  exclaimed  Miss  Mow- 
cher, making  a  preposterous  attempt  to  cover  her  large  face  with 
her  morsel  of  a  hand.  '"  What  a  world  of  gammon  and  spinage  it 
is,  though,  ain't  it !" 

This  was  addressed  confidentially  to  both  of  us,  as  the  morsel  of 
a  hand  came  away  from  the  face,  and  buried  itself,  arm  and  all,  in 
the  bag  again. 

"  What  do  you  mean.  Miss  Mowcher  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Ha !  ha  !  ha !  What  a  refreshing  set  of  humbugs  we  are,  to  be 
sure,  ain't  we,  my  sweet  child  ?"  replied  that  morsel  of  a  woman, 
feehng  in  the  bag  with  her  head  on  one  side,  and  her  eye  in  the  air. 
"  Look  here !"  taking  something  out.  "  Scraps  of  the  Russian 
Prince's  nails  !  Prince  Alphabet  turned  topsy-turvy,  /  call  him,  for 
his  name's  got  all  the  letters  in  it,  higgledy-piggledy." 

"  The  Russian  Prince  is  a  client  of  yours,  is  he  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  I  believe  you,  my  pet,"  replied  Mi;s  Mowcher.  "  I  keep  his 
nails  in  order  for  him.     Twice  a  week  !     Fingers  and  toes  !" 

"  He  pays  well,  I  hope  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Pays  as  he  speaks,  my  dear  child — thi-ough  the  nose,"  replied 
Miss  Mowcher.     "None  of  your   close   shavers   the  Prince   a' n't* 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  877 

You'd  say  so,  if  you  saw  his  miLstachios.     Red  by  nature,  black  by 
art." 

"  By  your  art,  of  coui-se,"  snid  Steerforth. 

Miss  Mowchor  winked  assent.  "  Forced  to  send  for  me.  Couldn't 
help  it.  The  climate  affected  his  dye ;  it  did  very  well  in  Russia, 
but  it  was  no  go  here.  You  never  saw  such  a  rusty  Prince  in  all 
your  born  days  as  he  was.     Like  old  iron  T' 

"  Is  that  why  you  called  him  a  humbug,  just  now  ?"  inquu-ed 
Steerforth. 

"  Oh,  you're  a  broth  of  a  boy,  ain't  you  ?"  returned  Miss  Mow- 
cher,  shaking  her  head  violently.  "  I  said,  what  a  set  of  humbugs 
we  were  in  general,  and  I  showed  you  the  scraps  of  the  Prince's 
nails  to  prove  it.  The  Prince's  nails  do  more  for  me,  in  private 
families  of  the  genteel  sc»rt,  than  all  my  talents  put  together.  I 
always  carry  'em  about.  They're  the  best  introduction.  If  Miss 
Mowcher  cuts  the  Prince's  nails,  she  must  be  all  right.  I  give  'em 
away  to  the  young  ladies.  They  put  'em  in  alVjums,  I  believe. 
Ha !  ha !  ha  !  Upon  my  life,  '  the  whole  social  system'  (as  the  men 
call  it  when  they  make  speeches  in  Parliament)  is  a  system  of 
Prince's  nails  1"  said  this  least  of  women,  trying  to  fold  her  short 
arms,  and  nodding  her  large  head. 

Steerforth  laughed  heartily,  and  I  laughed  too.  Miss  Mowcher 
continuing  all  the  time  to  shake  her  head  (which  was  very  much  on 
one  side),  and  to  look  into  the  air  with  one  eye,  and  to  wink  with 
the  other. 

"  Well,  well !"  she  said,  smiting  her  small  knees,  and  rising,  "  this 
is  not  business.  Come,  Steerforth,  let's  explore  the  polar  regions, 
and  have  it  over." 

She  then  selected  two  or  three  of  the  little  instruments,  and  a 
httle  bottle,  and  asked  (to  my  surprise)  if  the  table  would  bear.  On 
Steerforth's  replying  in  the  affirmative,  she  pushed  a  chair  against  it, 
and  begging  the  assistance  of  my  hand,  mounted  up,  pretty  nimbly, 
to  the  top,  as  if  it  were  a  stage. 

"  If  either  of  you  saw  my  ankles,"  she  said,  when  she  was  safely 
elevated,  "say  so,  and  I'll  go  home  ar_d  destroy  myself." 

"  /  did  not,"  said  Steerforth. 

"/did  not,"  said  I. 


878  DAVID    COPPEU  FIELD. 

"  Well  then,"  cried  Miss  Mowcher,  "  I'll  consent  to  live.  Now, 
ducky,  ducky,  ducky,  come  to  Mi's.  Bond  and  be  killed  !" 

TMs  was  an  invitation  to  Steerfortli  to  place  himself  under  her 
hands ;  who,  accordingly,  sat  himself  down,  with  his  back  to  the 
table,  and  his  laughing  face  towards  me,  and  submitted  his  head  to 
her  inspection,  evidently  for  no  other  purpose  than  our  entertain- 
ment. To  see  Miss  Mowcher  standing  over  him,  looking  at  his  rich 
profusion  of  brown  hair  through  a  large  round  magnifying  glass, 
which  she  took  out  of  her  pocket,  was  a  most  amazing  spectacle. 

"  You^re  a  pretty  fellow  !"  said  Miss  Mowcher,  after  a  brief  inspec- 
tion. "  You'd  be  as  bald  as  a  friar  on  the  top  of  your  head  in 
twelve  months,  but  for  me.  Just  half-a-minute,  my  young  friend, 
and  we'll  give  you  a  polishing  that  shall  keep  your  curls  on  for  the 
next  ten  years  !" 

With  this,  she  tilted  some  of  the  contents  of  the  little  bottle  on  to 
one  of  the  httle  bits  of  flannel,  and,  again  imparting  some  of  the 
virtues  of  that  preparation  to  one  of  the  httle  brushes,  began  rubbing 
and  scraping  away  with  both  on  the  crown  of  Steerforth's  head  in 
the  busiest  manner  I  ever  witnessed,  talking  all  the  time. 

"  There's  Charley  Pyegrave,  the  duke's  son,"  she  said.  "  You 
know  Charley  ?"  peeping  round  into  his  face. 

"  A  little,"  said  Steerforth. 

"  What  a  man  he  is  !  There's  a  whisker !  As  to  Charley's  leg's, 
if  they  were  only  a  pair  (which  they  ain't),  they'd  defy  competition. 
Would  you  believe  he  tried  to  do  without  me — in  the  Life-Guards, 
too?" 

"  Mad  !"  said  Steerforth. 

"  It  looks  like  it.  However,  mad  or  sane,  he  tried,"  returned 
Miss  Mowcher.  "  What  does  he  do,  but,  lo  and  behold  you,  he  goes 
into  a  perfumer's  shop,  and  wants  to  buy  a  bottle  of  the  Madagascar 
Liquid  ?" 

"  Charley  does  ?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Charley  does.  But  they  haven't  got  any  of  the  Madagascar 
Liquid." 

"  What  is  it  ?     Something  to  drink  ?"  asked  Steerforth. 

"  To  drink  ?"  returned  Miss  Mowcher,  stopping  to  slap  his  cheek. 
"  To  doctor  his  own  moustachios  with,  you  know.     There  was  a 


I  make  the  Acquaintance  of  Miss  Mowcber. 


I 

r 

L-iVERSITY  OF  ILLINOIS 


r 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  379 

woman  in  the  shop — elderly  female — quite  a  Griffin — who  had 
never  even  heard  of  it  by  name.  '  Begging  pardon,  sir,'  said  the 
Griffin  to  Charley,  *  it's  not — not — not  rouge,  is  it  ?'  '  Rouge,' 
said  Charley  to  the  Griffin.  'Wliat  the  unmentionable  to  ears 
polite,  do  you  think  I  want  with  rouge?'  'No  oftence,  sir,'  said  the 
Griffin  ;  '  we  have  it  asked  for  by  so  many  names,  I  thought  it 
might  be.'  Now  that,  my  child,"  continued  Miss  Mowcher,  rubbing 
all  the  time  as  busily  as  ever,  "  is  another  instance  of  the  refreshing 
humbug  I  was  speaking  of.  /  do  something  in  that  way  myself — 
perhaps  a  good  deal — perhaps  a  little — sharp 's  the  word,  my  dear 
boy — never  mind !" 

"  In  what  way  do  you  mean  ?     In  the  rouge  way  ?"  said  Steer-* 
forth. 

"  Put  this  and  that  together,  my  tender  pupil,"  returned  the  wary 
Mowcher,  touching  her  nose,  "  work  it  by  the  rule  of  Secrets  in  all 
trades,  and  the  product  will  give  you  the  desired  result.  I  say  /  do 
a  little  in  that  way  myself  One  Dowager,  she  calls  it  lip-salve. 
Another,  she  calls  it  gloves.  Another,  she  calls  it  tucker-edging. 
Another,  she  calls  it  a  tan.  /  call  it  whatever  they  call  it.  I  supply 
it  for  'em,  but  we  keep  up  the  trick  so,  to  one  another,  and  make 
believe  with  such  a  face,  that  they'd  as  soon  think  of  laying  it  on 
before  a  whole  drawing-room  as  before  me.  And  when  I  wait  upon 
'em,  they'll  say  to  me  sometimes — with  it  on — thick,  and  no  mis- 
take— '  How  am  I  looking,  Mowcher  ?  Am  I  pale  V  Ha !  ha !  ha ! 
ha !     Isn't  tliat  refreshing,  my  young  friend  ?" 

I  never  did  in  my  days  b<^hold  anything  like  Mowcher  as  she 
stood  upon  the  dining-table,  intensely  enjoying  this  refreshment, 
rubbing  busily  at  SteerfortH's  head,  and  winking  at  me  over  it. 

"  Ah !"  she  said.  "  Such  things  are  not  much  in  demand  here- 
abouts. That  sets  me  off  again  !  I  haven't  seen  a  pretty  woman 
since  I've  been  here.  Jemmy." 

"No?"  said  Steerforth. 

"  Not  the  ghost  of  one,"  replied  Miss  Mowcher. 

"  We  could  show  her  the  substance  of  one,  I  think  ?"  said  Steer - 
forth,  addressing  his  eyes  to  mine.     "  Eh,  Daisy  ?" 

"  Yes,  indeed,"  said  I. 

"  Aha  ?"  cri«'d  the  little  creature,  glancing  sharply  ai  my  face, 
and  then  peeping  round  at  Steerforth's.     "  Umph  2" 


380  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

The  first  exclamation  sounded  like  a  question  put  to  both  of  UK, 
and  the  second  like  a  question  put  to  Steerforth  only.  She  seemed 
to  have  found  no  answer  to  either,  but  continued  to  rub,  with  her 
head  on  one  side  and  her  eye  turned  up,  as  if  she  were  looking 
for  an  answer  in  the  air,  and  were  confident  of  its  appearing 
presently. 

"  A  sister  of  yours,  Mr.  Copperfield  ?"  she  cried,  after  a  pause,  and 
still  keeping  the  same  look  out.     "  Aye,  aye  ?" 

"  No,"  said  Steerforth,  before  I  could  reply.  "  Nothing  of  the 
soit.  On  the  contrary,  Mr.  Copperfield  used — or  I  am  much  mis- 
taken— to  have  a  great  admiration  for  her." 

"  Why,  hasn't  he  now?"  returned  Miss  Mowcher.  "  Is  he 
fickle  ?  oh,  for  shame  !  Did  he  sip  every  fiow-er,  and  change 
every  hour,  until  Polly  his  passion  requited  ? — Is  her  name 
Polly  ?" 

The  Elfin  suddenness  with  which  she  pounced  upon  me  w^ith 
this  question,  and  a  searching  look,  quite  disconcerted  me  for  a 
moment. 

"  No,  Miss  Mowcher,"  1  replied.     "  Her  name  is  Emily." 

"  Aha  ?"  she  cried  exactly  as  before.  "  Umph  ?  What  a  rattle 
I  am  !     Ml".  Copperfield,  ain't  I  volatile  ?" 

Her  tone  and  look  implied  something  that  was  not  agreeable  to 
me  in  connexion  with  the  subject.  So  I  said,  in  a  graver  manner 
than  any  of  us  had  yet  assumed : 

"  She  is  as  virtuous  as  she  is  pretty.  She  is  engaged  to  be  mar- 
ried to  a  most  worthy  and  deserving  man  in  her  own  station  of  life. 
I  esteem  her  for  her  good  sense,  as  much  as  I  admire  her  for  her 
good  looks." 

"  Well  said  I"  cried  Steei-forth.  "  Hear,  hear,  hear  !  Now  I  '11 
quench  the  curiosity  of  this  little  Fatima,  my  dear  Daisy,  by  leaving 
her  nothing  to  guess  at.  .  She  is  at  present  apprenticed,  Miss  Mow- 
cher, or  articled,  or  whatever  it  may  be,  to  Omer  and  Joram,  Haber- 
dashers, Milliners,  and  so  forth,  in  this  town.  Do  you  obser\'e  ? 
Omer  and  Joram.  The  promise  of  which  my  friend  has  spoken,  \ff^ 
made  and  entered  into  with  her  cousin  ;  Christian  name.  Ham  ; 
surname,  Peggotty  ;  occupation,  boat-builder  ;  also  of  this  town. 
She  hves  with  a  relative ;  Christian  name,  \inknown  ;  surname,  Peg- 
gotty ;  occupation,  seafaring ;  also  of  this  town.     Sht  is  the  prettiest 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD.  381 

and  most  engaging  little  fairy  in  the  world.  I  admire  her — as  my 
friend  does — exceedingly.  If  it  were  not  that  I  might  appear  to 
disparage  her  Intended,  which  I  know  my  friend  would  not  like,  I 
would  add,  that  to  me  she  seems  to  be  throwing  hersc4f  away  ;  that 
I  am  sure  she  might  do  better ;  and  that  I  swear  she  was  born  to 
be  a  lady." 

Miss  Mowcher  listened  to  these  words,  which  were  very  slowly 
and  distinctly  spoken,  with  her  head  on  one  side,  and  her  eye  in  the 
air  as  if  she  were  still  looking  for  that  answer.  When  he  ceased, 
she  became  brisk  again  in  an  instant,  and  rattled  away  with  sur- 
prising volubility. 

"  Oh  !  And  that 's  all  about  it,  is  it  ?"  she  exclaimed,  trimming 
his  whiskers  with  a  little  restless  pair  of  scissors,  that  went  glancing 
round  his  head  in  all  directions.  "  Very  well :  very  well !  Quite  a 
long  story.  Ought  to  end,  '  and  they  lived  happy  ever  afterwards ;' 
oughtn't  it  ?  Ah  !  What 's  that  game  at  forfeits  ?  I  love  my  love 
with  an  E,  because  she  's  enticing ;  I  hate  her  \vith  an  E,  because 
she 's  engaged.  I  took  her  to  the  sign  of  the  exquisite,  and  treated 
her  with  an  elopement,  her  name 's  Emily,  and  she  lives  in  the  east  ? 
Ha !  ha !  ha  !  Mr.  Copperfield,  ain't  I  volatile  ?" 

Merely  looking  at  me  with  extravagant  slyness,  and  not  waiting 
for  any  reply,  she  continued,  without  drawing  breath  : 

"  There  !  If  ever  any  scapegrace  was  trimmed  and  touched  up  to 
perfection,  you  are,  Steerforth.  If  I  understand  any  noddle  in  the 
world,  I  understand  yours.  Do  you  hear  me  when  I  tell  you  that, 
my  darling  ?  I  undersUmd  yours,"  peeping  down  into  his  face. 
"  Now  you  may  mizzle,  Jennny  (as  we  say  at  Court),  and  if  Mr. 
Copjierfield  will  take  the  chair  I  '11  operate  on  him." 

"  What  do  you  say,  Daisy  ?"  inquired  Steerforth,  laughing,  and 
resigning  his  seat.     "  Will  you  be  improved  ?" 

"  Thank  you,  Miss  Mowcher,  not  this  evening." 

"  Don't  say  no,"  returned  the  little  woman,  looking  at  me  with 
the  aspect  of  a  connoisseur ;  "  a  little  bit  more  eyebrow  ?" 

"  Thank  you,"  I  returned,  "  some  other  time." 

"  Have  it  carried  half  a  quarter  of  an  inch  towards  the  temple,** 
said  Miss  Mowcher.     "  We  can  do  it  in  a  fortnijxht." 

"  No,  I  thank  you.     Not  at  present." 


382  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  Go  in  for  a  tip,"  she  urged.  "  No  ?  Let 's  get  the  scaffolding 
up,  then,  for  a  pair  of  whiskers.     Come  !" 

I  could  not  help  blushing  as  I  declined,  for  T  felt  we  were  on  ray 
weak  point,  now.  But  Miss  Mowcher,  finding  that  I  was  not  at 
present  disposed  for  any  decoration  within  the  range  of  her  art,  and 
that  I  was,  for  the  time  being,  proof  against  the  blandishments  of  the 
small  bottle  which  she  held  up  before  one  eye  to  enforce  her 
pei'suasions,  said  we  would  make  a  beginning  on  an  early  day,  and 
requested  the  aid  of  my  hand  to  descend  fi'om  her  elevated  station. 
Thus  assisted,  she  skipped  doA\Ti  with  much  agility,  and  began  to 
tie  her  double  chin  into  her  bonnet. 

"  The  fee,"  said  Steerforth,  "is " 

"  Five  bob,"  repHed  Miss  Mowcher,  "  and  dirt-cheap,  my  chicken. 
Ain't  I  volatile,  Mr.  Copperfield  ?" 

I  replied  politely  :  "  Not  at  all."  But  I  thought  she  was  rather 
so,  when  she  tossed  up  his  two  half-crowns  like  a  goblin  pieman, 
caught  them,  dropped  them  in  her  j^ocket,  and  gave  it  a 
loud  slap. 

"  That 's  the  Till !"  observed  Miss  Mowcher,  standing  at  the  chair 
again,  and  replacing  in  the  bag  the  miscellaneous  collection  of  little 
objects  she  had  emptied  out  of  it.  "  Have  I  got  all  my  traps  ?  It 
seems  so.  It  won't  do  to  be  like  long  Ned  Beadwood,  when  they 
took  him  to  church  '  to  marry  him  to  somebody,'  as  he  says,  and 
left  the  bride  behind.  Ha !  ha !  ha !  A  wicked  rascal,  Ned,  but 
droll !  Now,  I  know  I  'm  going  to  break  your  hearts,  but  I  am 
forced  to  leave  you.  You  must  call  up  all  your  fortitude,  and  try 
to  bear  it.  Good  bye,  Mr.  Copperfield  !  Take  care  of  yourself, 
Jockey  of  Norfolk !  How  I  have  been  rattling  on  !  It 's  all  the 
fault  of  you  two  wretches.  /  forgive  you !  '  Bob  swore  !' — as  the 
Englishman  said  for  '  Good  night,'  when  he  first  learnt  French,  and 
thought  it  so  like  English.     '  Bob  swore,'  my  ducks  !" 

With  the  bag  slung  over  her  arm,  and  rattling  as  she  waddled 
away,  she  waddled  to  the  door ;  where  she  stopped  to  inquire  if  she 
should  leave  us  a  lock  of  her  hair.  "  Ain't  I  volatile  ?"  she  added, 
as  a  commentary  on  this  offer,  and,  with  her  finger  on  her  nose, 
departed. 

Steerforth  laughed  to  that  degree,  that  it  was  impossible  for  me 


DAVID    COrPER  FIELD.  883 

to  help  laughing  too  ;  thoiigli  I  am  not  sure  I  should  have  done  so, 
but  for  this  inducement.  When  we  had  had  our  laugh  quite  out, 
^Yhich  was  after  some  time,  he  told  me  that  Miss  Moweher  had  quite 
an  extensive  connexion,  and  made  herself  useful  to  a  variety  of 
people  in  a  variety  of  ways.  Some  peo|ile  trifled  with  her  as  a  mere 
oddity,  he  said ;  but  she  was  as  shrewdly  and  sharply  observant  as 
any  one  he  knew,  and  as  long-headed  as  she  was  short-armed.  Ho 
told  me  that  what  she  had  said  of  being  here,  and  there,  and  every- 
where, was  true  enough  ;  for  she  made  little  darts  into  the  provinces, 
and  seemed  to  pick  up  customers  everywhere,  and  to  know  every- 
body. I  asked  him  what  her  disposition  was  :  whether  it  was  at  all 
mischievous,  and  if  her  sympathies  were  generally  on  the  right  side 
of  things :  but,  not  succeeding  in  attracting  his  attention  to  these 
questions  after  two  or  three  attempts,  I  forbore  or  forgot  to  repeat 
them.  He  told  me  instead,  with  much  rapidity,  a  good  deal  about 
her  skill,  and  her  profits ;  and  about  her  being  a  scientific  cupper,  il 
I  should  ever  have  occasion  for  her  services  in  that  capacity. 

-She  was  the  princi|)al  theme  of  our  conversation  during  the  even- 
ing :  and  when  we  parted  for  the  night  Steerforth  called  after  me 
over  the  bannistere,  "  Bob  swore !"  as  I  went  down  stidrs. 

I  was  surprised  when  I  came  to  Mr.  Barkis's  house  to  find  Ham 
walking  up  and  down  in  front  of  it,  and  still  more  surprised  to  learn 
from  him  that  httle  Em'ly  was  inside.  I  naturally  inquired  why  he 
was  not  there  too,  instead  of  pacing  the  street  by  himself? 

"  Why,  you  see,  Mas'r  Davy,"  he  rejoined,  in  a  hesitating  manner, 
"  Em'ly,  she's  talking  to  some  'un  in  here." 

"  I  should  have  thought,"  said  I  smiling,  "  that  that  was  a  reason 
for  your  being  in  here  too,  Ham." 

"  Well,  Mas'r  Davy,  in  a  general  way,  so  't  would  be,"  he  re- 
turned ;  "  but  look'ee  here,  Mas'r  Davy,"  loweiing  his  voice,  and 
speaking  very  gravely.  "It's  a  young  woman,  sir — a  young 
woman  that  Em'ly  knowed  once,  and  doen't  ought  to  know  no 
more." 

"^iMien  I  heard  these  words,  a  fight  began  to  fall  upon  the  figure  I 
had  seen  following  them,  some  hours  ago. 

"  It 's  a  poor  wurem,  Mas'r  Davy,"  said  Ham,  "  as  is  trod  undei 
foot  by  all  the  town.     Up  street  and   down  street.     The  mowld  o 


^84  DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

the  cburch-yard  dou't  hold  any  that  the  folk  shrink  away  from 
more." 

"  Did  I  see  her  to-night,  Ham,  on  the  sands,  after  we  met  you  ?" 

"  Keeping  us  in  sight  ?"  said  Ham.  "  It 's  like  you  did,  Mas'r 
Pavy.  Not  that  I  know'd,  then,  she  was  theer,  sir,  but  along  of 
lier  creeping  soon  "arterwards  under  Em'ly's  little  winder,  when  she 
see  the  hghl  come,  and  whisp'ring  '  Em'ly,  Eni'ly,  for  Christ's  sake 
have  a  woman's  heart  towards  me.  I  was  once  like  you !'  Those 
was  solemn  words,  Mas'r  Davy,  for  to  hear  !" 

"  They  were  indeed,  Ham.     What  did  Em'ly  do  ?" 

"  Says  Em'ly,  '  Martha,  is  it  you  ?  Oh,  Martha,  can  it  be  you  !* 
— ^for  they  had  sat  at  work  together,  many  a  day,  at  Mr.  Omer's." 

'"  I  recollect  her  now !"  cried  I,  recalling  one  of  the  two  girls  1 
had  seen  when  I  first  went  there.     "  I  recollect  her  quite  well !" 

"Martha  Endell,"  said  Ham.  "Two  or  three  year  older  than 
Em'ly,  but  was  at  the  school  with  her." 

"  I  never  heard  her  name,"  said  I.  "  I  didn't  mean  to  interrupt 
you." 

"  For  the  matter  o'  that,  Mas'r  Davy,"  replied  Ham,  "  all 's  told 
a'most  in  them  words,  '  Em'ly,  Em'ly,  for  Christ's  sake  have  a 
woman's  heart  towards  me.  I  was  once  like  you  !'  She  wanted  to 
speak  to  Em'ly.  Em'ly  couldn't  speak  to  her  theer,  for  her  loving 
uncle  was  come  home,  and  he  wouldn't — no,  Mas'r  Davy,"  said 
Ham,  with  great  earnestness,  "  he  couldn't,  kind-naturd,  tender- 
hearted as  he  is,  see  them  two  together,  side  by  side,  for  all  the 
treasures  that's  wrecked  in  the  sea." 

I  felt  how  true  this  was.  I  knew  it  on  the  instant,  quite  as  well 
as  Ham. 

"  So  Em'ly  writes  in  pencil  on  a  bit  of  paper,"  he  pursued,  "  and 
gives  it  to  her  out  o'  winder  to  bring  here.  '  Show  that,'  she  says, 
'  to  my  aunt,  Mrs.  Barkis,  and  she  '11  set  you  down  by  her  fire,  for 
the  love  of  me,  till  uncle  is  gone  out,  and  I  can  come.'  By-and-by 
she  tells  me  what  I  tells  you,  Mas'r  Davy,  and  asks  me  to  bring  her. 
What  can  I  do  ?  She  doen't  ought  to  know  any  such,  but  I  can't 
deny  her,  when  the  tears  is  on  her  face." 

He  put  his  hand  into  the  breast  of  his  shaggy  jacket,  and  took 
out  with  great  care  a  pretty  little  purse. 


DAVID     (  0  P  r  E  R  F  I  E  L  D  .  385 

"  And  if  I  could  deny  her  when  tlie  tears  was  on  her  face,  Mas'r 
Davy,"  said  Ham,  tenderly  adjusting  it  on  the  rough  palm  of  his 
hand,  "  how  could  I  deny  her  when  she  give  me  this  to  carry  for 
her — knowing  what  she  brought  it  for  ?  Such  a  toy  as  it  is !"  said 
ITam,  thoughtfully  looking  on  it.  "  With  such  a  httle  money  in  it, 
Era'ly  my  dear !" 

I  shook  him  warmly  by  the  hand  when  he  had  put  it  away  again 
■ — for  that  was  more  satisfactory  to  me  than  saying  anything — and 
we  walked  up  and  down  for  a  minute  or  two,  in  silence.  The  door 
opened  then,  and  Peggotty  appeared,  beckoning  to  Ham  to  come  in. 
I  would  have  kept  away,  but  she  came  after  me,  entreating  me  to 
come  in  too.  Even  then,  I  would  have  avoided  the  room  where 
tliey  all  were,  but  for  its  being  the  neat-tiled  kitchen  I  have  men- 
tioned more  than  once.  The  door  opening  immediately  into  it,  I 
found  myself  among  them,  before  I  considered  whither  I  was  going. 

The  girl — the  same  I  had  seen  upon  the  sands — was  near  the  fire. 
She  was  sitting  on  the  ground,  with  her  head  and  one  arm  lying 
on  a  chair.  I  fancied,  from  the  disposition  of  her  figure,  that  Em'ly 
had  but  newly  risen  from  the  chair,  and  that  the  forlorn  head  might 
l^erhaps  have  been  lying  on  her  lap.  I  saw  but  little  of  the  girl's 
face,  over  which  her  hair  fell  loose  and  scattered,  as  if  she  had  been 
disordering  it  with  her  own  hands ;  but  I  saw  that  she  was  young, 
and  of  a  fair  complexion.  Peggotty  had  been  crying.  So  had 
little  Em'ly.  Not  a  word  was  spoken  when  we  first  went  in  ;  and 
the  Dutch  clock  by  the  dresser  seemed,  in  the  silence,  to  tick  twice 
as  loud  as  usual. 

Em'ly  spoke  first. 

"  Martha  wants,"  she  said  to  Ham,  "  to  go  to  London." 

"  Why  to  London  ?"  returned  Ham. 

He  stood  between  them,  looking  on  the  prostrate  girl  with  a 
mixture  of  compassion  for  her,  and  of  jealousy  of  her  holding  any 
companionship  with  her  whom  he  loved  so  well,  which  I  have 
always  remembered  distinctly.  They  both  spoke  as  if  she  were  ill ; 
in  a  soft,  suppressed  tone  that  was  plainly  heard,  although  it  hardly 
rose  above  a  whisper. 

"  Better  there  than  here,"  said  a  third  voice  aloud — Martha's, 
though  she  did  not  move.     "  No  one  knows  me  there.     Everybody 
knows  me  here." 
24 


DAVID    COPPERFIELD. 

"  What  will  she  do  there  ?"  inquired  Ham. 

She  lifted  up  her  head,  and  looked  darkly  roand  at  him  for  a 
moment ;  then  laid  it  down  again,  and  curved  her  right  arm  about 
her  neck,  as  a  woman  in  a  fever,  or  in  an  agony  of  pain  from  a  shot, 
might  twist  herself.  ^ 

"  She  will  try  to  do  well,"  said  httle  Em'ly.  "  You  don't  know 
what  she  has  said  to  us.     Does  he — do  they — aunt  ?" 

Peggotty  shook  her  head  compassionately. 

"I'll  try,"  said  Martha,  "  if  you'll  help  me  away.  I  never  can  do 
worse  than  I  have  done  here.  I  may  do  better.  Oh !"  with  a 
dreadful  shiver,  "  take  me  out  of  these  streets,  where  the  whole  town 
knows  me  from  a  child  !" 

As  Em'ly  held  out  her  hand  to  Ham,  I  saw  him  put  in  it  a  little 
canvas  bag.  She  took  it,  as  if  she  thought  it  were  her  purse,  and 
made  a  step  or  two  forward ;  but  finding  her  mistake,  came  back  to 
where  he  had  retired  near  me,  and  showed  it  to  him. 

"  It's  all  yourn,  Em'ly,"  I  could  hear  him  say.  "  I  haven't  nowt 
in  all  the  wureld  that  ain't  yourn,  my  dear.  It  ain't  of  no  delighl 
to  me,  except  for  you  !" 

The  tears  rose  freshly  in  her  eyes,  but  she  turned  away,  and  went 
to  Martha.  What  she  gave  her,  I  don't  know.  I  saw  her  stooping 
over  her,  and  putting  money  in  her  bosom.  She  whispered  some- 
thing, and  asked  was  that  enough  ?  "  More  than  enough,"  the  other 
said,  and